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How to exercise when you have a chronic illness
by cynefin September 4th 2019, 01:50 PM

How to exercise when you have a chronic illness
By Cassie (cynefin)


Finding interesting and fun ways to exercise can be a challenge, especially if you have a chronic illness. Exercise is said to help with illnesses, but as many people know, it can also make you feel a little worse. Here are a few light exercises that are beneficial for those with a chronic illness - and those without - as well as a few different ideas to keep your routine going.


One form of exercise that tends to be underrated is walking. Consider taking a walk outside in the sunshine, either around your neighborhood or a wooded park. Slow but steady strides outside can provide a change of scenery and a positive mood. Pets can help encourage you to walk too! If you can't walk outside, or do not want to, consider walking up and down steps, or look into a stationary stepper for your home (there are relatively inexpensive ones available).

Another way to exercise that is light impact is biking, particularly with leisure bikes as opposed to sporty or mountain bikes. Bike slow, or fast, depending on how you're feeling. Pay attention to your surroundings and the feeling of air on your skin. As mentioned above, there are also inexpensive peddlers you can purchase for your home. These are particularly useful as you can do office work or watch TV while using them.

Not everyone has access to a pool, but swimming is low impact on the body and it's a good way to cool down as well. If you don't have a pool, see if a friend has one or look into indoor pool options. Some areas allow people to swim in the ponds or lakes during warmer times of the year.

Doing stretches and trying yoga poses can be a calming way to stretch your muscles. Research some poses, or find yoga videos that catch your interest. Try to focus on your breathing or visualize your favorite place as well.

Additional tips

Find a time of day to exercise that suits you most. Some people enjoy exercising in the mornings, because it gives them more energy. Others prefer to exercise later in the day. If you're not sure when to start, try exercising four to five hours before you would like to sleep. Refrain from exercising too late, however, as this can make it hard to fall asleep at night.

Exercise with a friend or a pet. Exercising with someone you enjoy being around can be a good motivator to go out - perhaps you can get lost in a conversation and it won't even feel like exercising! Walking your dog can be a positive way for both you and your dog to spend time together. If you prefer to exercise alone, try listening to music or something you find soothing.

Push yourself, but know your limits. For instance, if you're mentally not feeling up to it, you might benefit from pushing yourself a little. However, if you feel physically incapable of exercising, consider giving yourself a rest. Encouraging yourself when you feel slight discomfort can be done, but giving your body a rest can help when you have extensive pain.

Keep up with it when you can. If you continue a similar exercise routine for a few weeks, you might become more adjusted to it. After some time, it can feel as routine as brushing your teeth and you won't think twice about it.

Talk to your doctor or other form of support if needed. If you have any doubts about what you can and cannot do, it is best to assess your options with another person.

Exercising can definitely cause you more pain, but it can also help to release endorphins and keep you in better spirits. If you have a chronic illness or are new to exercising, start slow and work your way up based on what you feel comfortable with.
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