When dealing with any kind of disability, chronic illness or perhaps you are just stressed, exercise and staying active can be key elements to have a better life. At the point of my diagnosis with Alpha-1 my life was in a negative spiral that had lasted for a few years. Hospitalization and rehabilitation institutions was my life for almost two years. From being an accomplished long distance runner I became almost 40 kg overweight due to medications and inactivity due to the lung disease.
Starting to rehabilitate back to life was all but easy, it literary was one more step every single day. Just ONE more step, I
could not walk the stairs at home, I could not walk and talk at the same time let alone lift something heavy or go for a bike ride. If we went grocery shopping that would be it for a day. As the months progressed I was able to do more and more, despite surgeries and chronic pain I could use less medication and overall had a much easier life. The small things like carrying my own grocery bags, walking and talking with friends at Christmas market, those are the things that have kept me going. For those that have followed me you will know that I have set some world records, done some world firsts and yes, I have more to come, but this is not what it is all about.
My message to all is that it is easier to control almost any kind of chronic disease, stress and disability with exercise and training. Not to set world records, not to be an athlete. But to better your own life and health. To exercise in a group is like a wonderful support system. It can keep you accountable and motivate you to go even when you don’t want to go. It does not need to be at a gym. Meet friends at home for a session or go for a brisk walk. This is the magic of exercise, there are many forms of it. There is always something you can do, whether it is wiggling your toes, walk the stairs at home, or dance like nobody is watching, it will all contribute to a more active you.
Research show that when we exercise our level of endorphin, the natural painkiller and happy hormone in the body, will elevate and stay elevated also after the exercise. There have been several studies that show bone density will increase by weight bearing exercise. Furthermore it is a well known fact that exercise will lower blood pressure, prevent stroke, strengthen the heart, sharpen the brain, relieve pain, reduce stress. It is overall the best medicine there is. Key element is to keep at it, it is the long term exercise that will give you the most benefits overall. This is also what research shows. The standard say at least 30 minutes physical activity every day. For many this may seem like a lot, but it can be divided into parts of five or ten minutes. As time goes by most people will find that they become more active in their every day life as a product of exercise.
Find your own way
Many will find it really hard to start. Lets face it, all change is hard, and to start a new regime is hard. The number one thing people do wrong is to go all in with new diet and massive exercise all at once. That will in most cases fail. It is vital to find YOUR OWN WAY and listen to your own body. It is true also in regards to exercise that slow and steady will win the race. When you have a chronic illness for instance it is vital to adapt exercises to fit to your illness. Exercise will not cure your illness, but it will make some things easier over time. And it will give your body and mind a different way of dealing with it. Give it time and don’t give up even when you feel it is very hard. You may feel drained before you start, but exercise will leave you feeling more energetic and relaxed, it is a matter of resisting that couch and just move. If going to the gym is not your thing, dance in the living room, use a jump rope, just move your body and see what it does for your stress or your pain.
Be kind to yourself, don’t sell your self short, be proud of what you are accomplishing, your body is an amazing machine that can and will adapt to exercise. It needs time to change, but it will. Be sure to pat yourself on the back when you have reached a new goal, however small you may think it is because it does not compare to the world according to Facebook or Instagram. The key to feeling better, is to make the most of your abilities. The freedom you feel when you are able to do something that was out of reach, I still can feel the rush I had when I for the first time in years was able to get a 20kg (45 lbs) bar off the floor, or when I could walk the stairs at home without stopping.
The more we move, the more the body will adapt to your activity level. No not all will be able to exercise for hours every single day, that should not be the goal either. A goal should always be about you, not a goal set when compared to others, but how you can use exercise to have a better every day life.
And now, time to exercise!