Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Of Exercise 2

My husband used to jog or run on a treadmill in our apartment for exercise. At one point, he developed a problem with his ankle and couldn’t do this type of exercise for a prolonged period of time. At that time, I suggested he join a local health club and take up swimming for exercise and he did so. Since that time, he has continued to swim between 3 and 5 days a week. After about 4-5 years, he has noticed that he has developed shoulder, arm and back muscles that weren’t there before. There’s body definition that gradually built up almost imperceptibly through the years as he has grown stronger and developed those muscles.

My husband’s situation regarding exercise and bodily changes comes to mind as I have continued to try and incorporate more exercise into my life. I mentioned before that I could barely walk before I started my current lifestyle change. My goal initially was simply to be able to approach daily movement such as standing, walking, and even lying down for long periods of time without pain. I still have pain, but it’s nothing like before, and I can walk now.

Last November, I posted that I had a recumbent bike that I couldn’t use because my stomach was too big and heavy and lay on my thighs so it was too hard to pedal on it. Yesterday, I dusted it off and gave it another go. My stomach is still an issue, but nothing like it was several months ago. Previously, I was lucky to last 3 minutes before my legs screamed “uncle”, and to do 9 minutes in total with breaks. Last night, I could manage 5 minutes before my inner thigh muscles made me give up the ghost. I managed 22 minutes with breaks every 5 minutes or so, before I decided it’d be wise to give it a rest. I was pretty pleased with this progress though I clearly have awhile to go.

Both my husband’s swimming-related body changes and my progress with the recumbent bike were good reminders that it is important to start slow and wait for your body to adapt to the demands you are placing on it. If you set the bar too high too early, you’re going to get frustrated and possibly injure yourself. It’s better to do something easier until you get stronger and lose some weight and become more flexible and capable of better movement.

I was frustrated initially that I couldn’t do very much because I felt more exercise would help my weight loss progress more rapidly, but I’ve learned that I need to be very patient about it. It’s not that I was ever lazy before and didn’t move (because I was always moving as much as I could). It was simply the case that I was too heavy to move without pain and needed to lose more weight to reduce the strain on my body before I could introduce further strain with more exercise. I've done exercise (walking, weight lifting, now the recumbent bike) five minutes at a time for months, and can really see the cumulative results by now.

1 comment:

dlamb said...

This is SUCH an important point! I know I've mentioned this before and I am repeating myself but I believe it cannot be "stressed" (I am such a corn ball!) enough! IF PEOPLE INJURE THEMSELVES, THEY WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO DO EVEN THE MINIMAL AMOUNT OF EXERCISE!!!
Sure, they can do other exercises, but not the ones they intend to do when they injure themselves. It is one of my biggest frustrations, as I have said before, with those who start exercising for the first time as adults and they lose weight, they have absolutely ZERO empathy or tolerance for anyone who has injuries. They state, quite stridently, that everyone should be crawling, hopping, hobbling and limping "if that's what it takes".
I will not say that I am happy when such people finally injure themselves and they become completely incapacitated for months and even years, but I would certainly love to ask them if they believe that their prior statements apply to them and if so, see where this is going.

Because my only form of exercise is so important for MY HEAD, I have learned that the second I feel any strain anywhere, I stop. I can stop for that day or I can be derailed for the next weeks or months and lose my mind in the process. When this has happened in the past, I needed to be completely off my feet for a full 1.5 year and I gained 80# due to lack of activity and depression related eating. The depression was a direct result of my inactivity. Could I have done other things? Yes, definitely but that was not the point, since what I was doing was the only stress relieving activity that has ever worked for me, since I was 5 years old.