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Exercise for the Exercise Intolerant

Posted Apr 09 2009 6:10pm

Hi,  Those of you with ME/CFS, do you find yourself worrying about the impact of exercise intolerance on your health? 

I sure have, but, I am not listening to news reports anymore as to what research studies are finding is the needed amount of exercise to keep one’s heart healthy and to live to a ripe old age.   How discouraging for those of us with exercise intolerance.  Since I can’t get to the gym or walk miles many times a week, does that mean I don’t have many years ahead?   Phooey!  I’m determined that it means no such thing! 

Those of us with exercise intolerance can make our own healthy exercise programs (with the help of our medical practioners) that work within our physical limits and don’t flare us up.  

Then we need to feel darn good about what we CAN do.  As research points out over and over again, feeling good, feeling positive, and having hope are also extremely healthy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s what I’m doing and thinking lately.  Walking up our staircase is a workout.  On high functioning days I try for twice a day.  I walk around the house as much and as often as I’m able. Some days my pace is fast and I walk from room to room straightening up and putting things in there place.  On my toughest days, I need to “take a wing” as my Grandpa used to say, hold on to my hubby’s arm and do a couple laps around our living area.

Wheelchair walks, oh so fun!  I walk behind the wheelchair, pushing it until my bod gives, then I sit down and my hubby gets a work out pushing me.

A new addition these past two weeks is using our treadmill in my own “exercise intolerant” way.  On able days, I set the treadmill to an oh so slow speed and walk two to four minutes at a time.  Some days I can do this once and some days twice or three times (and a good lot of days my bod isn’t up to it).  To feel my circulation quicken feels wonderful.  It clears my brain and I feel an all over physical lift.  If I overdo it though it will flatten me…. so important to talk to our docs and listen to our bods and start out oh so slow.

Yoga!  I love yoga.  I have my teaching certificate which I earned when newly ill and could do much more than I can now.  I wanted to work with others with chronic illness.  I wasn’t able to teach long as my body couldn’t keep up, but I’m grateful to know how to do yoga.  Oh so gentle, mostly laying down or sitting, I have created a routine for myself that I do whenever I can (usually three to four times a week).  Stretching, breathing slowly and deeply, helps me feel grounded and peaceful. I feel in touch and appreciative of my bod and what it is still able to do.  For Fibromyalgia pain yoga is my best medicine. 

Any movement, no matter how slow, how small is better than no movement.  I like feeling good about what I CAN do, and I know that positive feeling is good for my health, my heart and for keeping on a going a long time! 

Have you been able to incorporate movement into your life in spite of exercise intolerance? 

(I want to thank Connie at My Chronic Life for inspiring this post.  I read a blog post of hers today in which she talked about the walking those of us with chronic illness can do and that it counts!)

*As I am not a medical expert any way shape or form, it is IMPORTANT before starting an exercise routine, to talk with your medical team about what exercise is right for you. 



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