The Importance of Exercise with Chronic Illness

Greetings readers,

Welcome back to the blog!

I would never have imagined, there’d be a day for me to write about and promote exercise…like, me?! Talking about exercise?! Who am I kidding! But here we are. All jokes aside. In today’s blog, I hope to share with you, about the importance of exercise with chronic illness. Now, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m not a trainer or an exercise expert. In fact, I’m still a (relatively) newbie to exercise as a chronically ill person, just doing my best. And, the sole purpose of this blog, is to share with you my journey, thoughts and experiences.

As some of you know, I’m visually impaired and chronically ill, up until the beginning of this year, I was never that into fitness, training or exercise. Other than…if you count walking (walking is actually a good form of exercise). But, at the start of this year, and, under the suggestion of my medical team, I was enrolled into a program called Pulmonary Rehabilitation, due to my on-going/chronic breathing issues/lung disease (Not going into details on the illness part here, cause that’s not the purpose of this blog). Through the participation of this program, I learned, experienced and seen a lot. So, here are some conclusions I’ve made, and thoughts I want to share:

*Talk with Your Trusted Medical Professionals Before Starting

If you’re healthy, you probably don’t need to talk to a doctor before starting an exercise regimen . But, if you are disabled or chronically ill, I highly recommend that you talk with your medical team, first to determine if you are fit for exercise, then, what type and how much exercise is good/safe for you, etc. In my case, the conversation about exercise or attend the rehab program was suggested to me, so I simply took that suggestion (and challenge!).

*Exercise is NOT a Cure, but It’s Helpful

Anyone who tells you that exercise can cure any and all illness, is not very helpful, or honest with you. Exercise is important, for healthy and chronically ill people alike. Exercise may/can not cure your disease/illness, but it may/can delay the progression of that disease/illness. For anyone, as long as you are able to move, even just a little, even just by moving your fingers and toes several times a day while laying in bed, is useful. So, don’t ever think that exercise means running marathons or playing sports! Once again, exercise is not a cure, but it is an important part of living with and managing a chronic illness and disability.

*Start Slow and Small—Go at Your Own Pace

When exercise with a chronic illness, it is extremely important to start slow and small. Your exercise plan is not a race, you are not competing with anyone (maybe other than yourself). Go at your own pace, do as much as you can, and build up strengths slowly and steadily. Pushing yourself is OK, only under the condition to do it safely, and never irresponsibly.

*Setbacks Happen, Don’t Get Discouraged!

Exercise with chronic illness is similar like living with chronic illness itself, there are good days and bad days. Setbacks happen, and they happen likely after a bout of flare up of illness. You know what, that’s OK! What you got to do is to start again, sometimes, this could also mean, rolling back on some of the progress made prior to the setback, and that’s OK, too. As long as, you don’t stop and give up completely.

*Make it a Life’s Routine

Once you have had a hang of your exercise plan, make it a life’s routine. That way, it’s no longer a therapy (in my case, how I started), or a chore. It’s simply a part of life—Just like eating and sleeping, you make sure you have time to do it, everyday. Also to remember again, setbacks happen, life happens. It’s OK to get derail sometimes, just remember to get back at it. It’s not a race, it’s a part of life. And, do it for yourself, your body, and your health.

Alright, this concludes today’s blog. I hope, at least through this piece today, you’re able to learn, even just a little of what I learned—the importance of exercise with chronic illness.

The Invisible Vision Project

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