Friday, April 29, 2011

Complications of Physical Activity

We've all heard about the benefits of exercise. Some of us moan and groan a bit, thinking our excuses are truly valid. Now a days, I'm probably in the front of this line, as I get caught up in the complications of my day by day health, rather than the benefits of exercise for my health and well-being.

My health issues began over 35 years ago with an auto accident. I had my first total hip replacement at age 23 and 3 subsequent revisions (1 almost every 10 years) with the last one resulting in femoral nerve damage and temporary paralysis.  Swimming was my best option for exercise for the first couple of hip surgeries.  Water and physical therapy were the best for the last one.

After years of lap swimming, I got multiple ear infections. I also came down a vestibular disorder  which resulted in debilitating dizziness, nausea, imbalance, and neurological problems.  My world stopped for several years as I went to multiple specialists, progressed through treatments and learned several exercises to help me adapt to this disorder. I can no longer swim or turn my head quickly, but I do continue the daily stretching for my neck.

As a complication of the chronic pain and stress to my hips, pelvis, neck and shoulders, I have also developed arthritis,  fibromyalgia, cluster headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome. I've learned various 'tools' to help cope with the pain: healthy back exercises, deep breathing techniques, journaling, meditation, stretches, goal setting, pacing, etc. I was treated with chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, cranial sacral positioning, shiatzu massage, and electrical stimulation modalities from wonderfully trained professionals.  My physical activities through these years consisted of walking, water therapy, a fibromyalgia exercise group (through a research study), stretches, balance exercises and hand weights often using the exercise ball.

The years have gone by and more symptoms have resulted where lab tests show high cholesterol, diabetes, liver disease, gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD) and gastroparesis. At this point, my exercises consist of basic core isometrics, small hand weights and stretching. I'm frustrated to say the least. I can go for a short walks but definitely not brisk ones. I still 'play' with my grandchildren, but I tend to 'lead' them in activities more by talking rather than doing.

But as I read through various articles online, it's important for me to participate in exercise to help lower my blood sugar levels. Chronic inflammation from arthritis and fibromyalgia can be helped with specialized exercises consisting of minimal repetitions and varying muscle groups. Movement, whether aerobic or non-aerobic, is shown to lower levels of C-reactive protein (the test for inflammation in the body). Most articles refer to being consistent with your exercise plan, doing so for 20-30 minutes or more, 5-7 days a week, if possible. 

As we age, we need to consider movement and range of motion exercises as a lifestyle to keep our bodies healthy. When we least feel well, that's when we need to get up and move. Consider going outside and picking a couple of weeds or cutting some flowers. You might go over to a neighbor's and check in with them, getting out of 'yourself' and helping others. Before you know it, maybe you'll feel like doing more. I have a stationary bike on my covered porch that needs a little dusting off. There's a lovely honeysuckle plant just off the porch that will start blooming soon. The smell is luscious and a pleasure to enjoy while pedaling! 

Scientists aren't exactly sure how exercise diffuses inflammation. [One theory is that exercise goads the body into making more antioxidants, which then seek and destroy free radicals associated with prolonged inflammation. William Joel Meggs, MD, PhD, author of The Inflammation Cure (McGraw-Hill, 2004), believes exercise may fool the body into thinking it’s younger than it is. “If the body senses it has a biological need to stay healthy, it will produce more antioxidants to control inflammation and slow the aging process,” he says.]

Our bodies are extremely complex and resilient, but they need nurturing. Only we can make a difference in our physical health.  Get up and move . . . and make your body feel younger! If you are young, enjoy the abilities you have today, for tomorrow comes all too quickly.

1 comment:

  1. "Our bodies are extremely complex and resilient, but they need nurturing."
    Your last paragraph nails it. We need to do what we are capable of doing but we need to listen to our body too.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog Anna. It sounds like you are pretty active considering your health issues. That is wonderful.
    Thanks for the tips on the fitness/wellness journal. Since i am just getting started I'm not quite sure yet what will work for me.