Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I often wonder what is appropriate for exercise. I have been told to exercise as I feel, without overdoing it. My doctor is fully aware that I actually enjoy running 50Ks from time to time, which I feel is disclaimer enough that my definition of "as I feel" might be a little bit abnormal. Nonetheless, I have progressed fairly far in my exercise regimen since the bottom. At my worst, I made it out for a shuffle around the block. I gradually started walking more, then added cardio machines like the recumbent bike and elliptical trainer. I then started adding strength exercises with a theraband and very light dumbbells. I am now fully utilizing the fitness center equipment at work and have built up to the following:
  • Strength training about 3x/week. On selectorized machines, doing chest press, lat pull-down, row, bicep curls, tricep push-down, leg extension, hamstring curl, and calf press. Abs on ball. Staying away from squat/lunge type stuff because of the achy knees. For weight amounts, I am able to do 2 sets of 15 reps at about 50% of what I was lifting prior to disease onset. I have been able to watch this increase, which is a great form of feedback.
  • Cardio: almost every day, although I will vary the intensity and duration (between 30-60 min, usually). Some days will be a more difficult workout, others will be active recovery. Either a walk (or walk-jog if I'm feeling cocky), spin on bike trainer, or elliptical trainer. Haven't gotten in the pool yet, maybe soon.
  • Stretching: I am very stiff. I have used a stretch trainer made by True that we have at work for the past few months. I just attempted to get down onto the floor and stretch there, and it was tough. I can't touch my toes with my legs extended in front of me while sitting on the floor, so I have some work to do here. It's also still difficult for me to get up off of the floor. I have to position myself close to a railing, brace my feet against the wall, and heave myself up. People tell me to try yoga, but I really can't move around on the floor at all.
  • Balance: I try to do a few sets of balance exercises standing on a BOSU a few times a week. I never really had a problem with balance/falling, thank goodness. The only falling issues I ever had were at the beginning, before I even realized that I was sick. I had begun tripping and falling on trails during runs. It had seemed to me that my legs just felt heavy, and I was hitting roots/rocks more than usual. In hindsight, I realize that I was beginning to feel some weakness and fatigue that was causing me to not pick up my feet.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am working very hard at this aspect of my recovery, primarily because it's what I know how to do. I enjoy it and feel like it's something that I can do to have some kind of control over my own body, which has made it very clear that at any point, it can snatch that conrol away. I am curious as to what other people do for exercise, what medical research would say is the optimal physical therapy course, etc., and how what I'm doing compares. Am I overdoing it? Maybe. But it feels good, and as long as progress continues to be forward, I am assuming that it's helping.

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