Using Exercise to Establish a Healthy, Happy Lifestyle

  • The holidays are here!!  I don’t know about you, but I’m right smack dab in the middle of activities and my head is somewhat spinning.  In fact, today I am traveling to spend the week with family back home.  (As a result, I won’t be around here quite as much as usual.)


    While planning on how to make these days special for everybody else and in search of the perfect gift, sometimes it is too easy to forget to take care of oneself.  We shouldn’t forget to put our own needs high up on the holiday to-do list.


    Do your friends, family members, or loved ones ever ask what you might like to have for Christmas?  Do you usually have specific requests?  Do you have a “list”?

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    Often I don’t know what to say because the things which I truly want, deep down, aren’t items which can be bought.  They are not even things which someone else could do for me, although helping to clean my house is always a welcome gift.


    Besides being cured of all disease and magically becoming transformed into a slim, fit, active woman, I mostly desire to feel good.  To feel good physically and to feel good about myself


    In order feel good, I must give myself a gift that only I can offer and deliver upon.  I need to exercise my body and mind...and remember to breathe.


    Reading and writing helps to keep my mind active.  Teaching music requires that I tap into a different area of my brain which is excellent.  Completing sudoku games and crossword puzzles helps to keep my memory and logic skills sharp.  These are all things which I enjoy.


    But multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis rob us of movement and agility.  It is very important that we do what we can to keep our bodies in good condition.  Exercise is not just a gift to ourselves, it is vital for physical conditioning and overall well-being.


    Do you exercise daily or have a regular routine?  I will admit that I do not.


    Several weeks ago, I requested a DVD which was offered online from MSActiveSource (an unbranded program sponsored by Biogen Idec and Elan).  You may have seen advertisements referencing the MS Active Wellness Fitness with Katrina workout videos here at HealthCentral.  The DVD is free, however you do need to register and provide contact information.


    It took me awhile to get the videos out and to give them a try.  Why I delayed, I’m not so sure.  Just procrastinating I guess, or maybe we can blame it on the holidays.


    First thing I notice is that the DVD has three complete sets of exercises, presented for different levels of abilities.  Each workout was approximately 40-45 minutes in length.  Inside the disc cover, a booklet is provided outlining each of the exercises shown on the disc.  This was a smart addition to the package.


    Featured is Katrina Hodgson, the fitness trainer and workout guide who leads small groups of MS patients of varying abilities.  It is clear that just because you can’t walk or stand is no reason not to take advantage of the exercises presented here.  Sometimes visualizing your body doing something serves to engage other muscles and helps to keep them in good shape as well.


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    I started with the lowest level exercise routine.  Many of the exercises are similar to stretches and other tasks which my physical therapist had shown me a couple of years ago.  Honestly, it felt really good to go through the routine present.  Afterwards I felt much more relaxed, calm and limber.


    When I went through the middle level exercise routine, it became apparent that I’ve got some room for improvement.  Although I am fully mobile and have not lost too much strength, my body has suffered some deconditioning.  There were several moments where I rested and waited for the next exercise to begin.  Good thing with a DVD is that pausing is always an option.


    Each day that I’ve taken the time to complete the easiest level workout, I’ve felt good about myself.  It has helped me to remember to breathe.  In effect I was giving myself that wonderful gift that only I can give.  As the holiday season continues to speed on by, I promise myself to take time to stretch and move my body even while I’m playing with my three nephews.


    That will be my Christmas gift.


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: December 23, 2010