There is no cure for the multiple sclerosis that ails us, but there are many things we can do to keep ourselves as healthy as possible, in order to maintain a good quality of life.
In previous posts, I've discussed some of the things I do to accomplish this. I have a great track record when it comes to good sleep habits, a healthy diet, and a positive outlook. I take a multi-vitaimin and my MS medication. I don't drive when it doesn't feel safe to do so and I use a handicapped placard. I do as much for myself as possible without seeking assistance. I use a cane when necessary and take advantage of every device available to keep me independent. I feel good about these things and I put a lot of thought into them. Yes, my report card is filled with high marks.
But I am failing rather miserably in one area. Exercise. I suspect that I have plenty of company in this one. C'mon, fess up. Of all the things that we can do for our overall health, this has got to be the most difficult. Afterall, movement (at least in my case) has become, at times, almost impossible. Sometimes, just walking around and doing daily chores is more than enough activity. Then there's that old MS fatigue dropping in at the most inopportune times and complicating matters even further.
It's not that I don't think about it. Afterall, every time I go to the laundry room I must pass by my stationary bike, as well as that giant exercise contraption in the corner that resembles a medieval torture device. I also own 2, 5 and 10 pound weights. Now I do, on occasion, spend some time with these devices, but not enough. When I am up to it and the weather is good, we take long walks around the local park or around our neighborhood, but in my heart of hearts, I know that it is still not enough.
Swimming, or other pool exercises, are often recommended for MS patients. The buoyancy of the water helps movement. Once, when I was not doing well, I had the opportunity to spend some time in a pool and found that to be 100 percent true. Although I could hardly walk, I was able to exercise for a long period of time in the water. As fate would have it, I don't have a pool or easy access to one.
I need to make exercise a part of my daily routine, as I have made dietary changes a daily habit. I would guess that 15 - 20 minutes a day would be enough to make a noticeable difference in my muscle tone and endurance. I'll allow whatever exercise stikes my fancy on any given day. On the worst days, I will settle for five minutes of stretching, twice a day, as a minimum starting point.
This is not going to be an easy thing, but since I'm making this pledge in writing, and publicly, it will be very difficult to ignore. The bar is intentionally set low to get off to the best possible beginning. I will follow up here to confess my failure or success, and how this minimal amount of exercise affects my physical well-being.
Do you exercise? Do you have a routine? If so, tell us about it. If not, join me in adding this important factor into your daily routine -- maybe we can cheer each other on.
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Published On: April 22, 2008