MS: My love/hate for exercise

My ‘a-ha’ moment: I never “hated” exercise (i.e., the movement made in childhood). Read more…

image from lorna.typepad.comParts of this post were originally published on June 23, 2008. It has been updated to reflect new findings.
 
I wrote this in 2008: 
 
Exercise.  I do feel better when I am doing it regularly, but every time I stop for an exacerbation, it takes so much out of me to start again.  And there are conflicting schools of thought on whether it is better to force my way through the exacerbation or whether I should give in to the fatigue at that time.
 
As of today, I have found no evidence that if you do responsibly push through fatigue you could do permanent damage. Currently, the thinking is that your body knows best. So do what feels best to you.
 
Starting off
 
I am now getting on the elliptical machine everyday.  It’s kind of like a stair-stepper with moving handles so I am pumping my  arms as well.  It allows a bit of stability while I am moving and I like to imagine I am walking unassisted. 
 
I can’t remember why I stopped doing this. I am pretty sure it was not because it got too hard. And we still have the equipment, but it is tucked away behind heavy furniture. But I do think I would like to try again on it. To be more disciplined and mindful about it this time.
 
Stalling 
 
My therapist recommends that we don’t exercise before bed because vigorous exercise is stimulating and can interfere with a body’s ability to fall asleep.  I, however, am exhausted by this tiny bit of exertion so exercising right before bed for right now allows me to take advantage of that exhaustion.
 
As I have already admitted, this is still not a problem for me. Vigorous anything is not my problem, neither is falling or staying asleep.
 
I am hoping that as I get my stamina up, I will no longer be exhausted by it and thus will have to schedule exercising for  some other time of day.  Until then, I am working on increasing the time I can stay on it.  I am currently only up to about two minutes, but hey, I started at thirty seconds.
 
Again, I have no excuse for stopping. As specialists say, doing something is better than doing nothing. Also, recent studies have shown that exercising, repeated regular movement over time, tends to have a cumulative effect.
 
What’s my passion?
 
My favorite way to workout is still the pool, but I have stopped going up there for right now…
 
Recently I came across the idea that to find types of exercise you like, examine what you liked to do as a child.  For me that led to remembering bicycling around town, hours spent on a friend’s trampoline, practicing at swim team, going roller skating and horseback riding, taking stretching, yoga, gymnastics and dancing classes.
 
And regarding the idea of activity, this is proof that I do not hate exercise. As children we never viewed it that way. My “a-ha” moment! 
 
I can consider these as all part of my motion, the cumulative effect. And even though now I’m in a wheelchair, I still need to move.  So I resolve to re-work some of these ideas to find things I would like doing now consistently. To build a “chain of habit.”
 
Therapists often say that the hardest thing about an exercise routine is starting and then sticking with it.  So as Warren Buffett is fond of quoting, “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to be broken.” And as Jerry Seinfeld says, just “Don’t break the chain.”
 
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Daydreaming

I woke up this a.m. with a fierce headache, which I get a couple of times a year. I took two Excedrin® Migraine and crawled back into bed for a bit longer.

Lying awake in bed is my “thinking” position. So I began to consider what I’d do if I woke up one morning and was suddenly free of this disease.

I’d take the dog on a long walk. To the ocean. And let him off-leash to run in the surf, which he loves.

I’d walk up to the pool for “public swim.”

I’d get in and help with the work on our house. Physical, hard work. It is still in such disarray since the contractor fled. And while I am so thankful that OH is able to slowly complete things, it would be wonderful to be able to join him.

I’d go to a meeting of my professional association. I’ve been able to still stay active from home, administering our e-mail list and job posting page, but attending meetings makes me constantly worry about falling and exhausted when I get home.

I’d meet friends at a restaurant. Without needing to be driven there.

I’d restart my journal. I’d write notes to my husband and hide them. I’d make cards for the holidays.

But I think I would continue to exercise on the elliptical machine. And I’d continue to work at home; that’s been a great “gift.” And I’d go back and get my food sensitivities retested; to avoid sensitive foods has been good for my energy and my thinking, at least.

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My love/hate relationship with exercise

Exercise. I do feel better when I am doing it regularly, but every time I stop for an exacerbation, it takes so much out of me to start again. And there are conflicting schools of thought on whether it is better to force my way through the exacerbation or whether I should give in to the fatigue at that time.
 
But in my re-commitment to the “diet” and attempts to stave off depression, I am now getting on the elliptical machine everyday.  It’s kind of like a stair-stepper with moving handles so I am pumping my arms as well.  It allows a bit of stability while I am moving and I like to imagine I am walking unassisted.
 
My therapist recommends that we don’t exercise before bed because vigorous exercise is stimulating and can interfere with a body’s ability to fall asleep.  I, however, am exhausted by this tiny bit of exertion so exercising right before bed for right now allows me to take advantage of that exhaustion.
 
I am hoping that as I get my stamina up, I will no longer be exhausted by it and thus will have to schedule exercising for some other time of day.  Until then, I am working on increasing the time I can stay on it.  I am currently only up to about two minutes, but hey, I started at thirty seconds.
 
My favorite way to workout is still the pool, but I have stopped going up there for right now.  First, the mornings got colder and then OH had surgery and was no longer going up to the pool at 5:30 a.m. with me. Also, with my money anxiety, I couldn’t justify the $100/month fee for both of us when I was only going 2-3 times a month by myself: that was like $30-50 a swim!
 
I canceled the $100/month subscription and switched back to the $3.50 fee collected each time I go, even getting a bit of a discount by pre-purchasing a punch card for ten swims with no expiration date. The available times for this type of swim is different, too, but I am working at home now so I could take off for lunch, for example.
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