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Physical Friday – Exercising with a Chronic Illness

17 Jan 14
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(c) Megan S, December 2013

(c) Megan S, December 2013

Last week I shared a video of my daily yoga practice to show what exercise I do to reduce my pain levels. Today I want to share the other part of my daily routine, the “real exercise” as my GP likes to call it.

To maintain muscle condition, or at least reduce the levels of deconditioning that can and will occur from lower activity levels, I aim to do at least 3 sessions of cardio based exercise that uses my biggest muscles (my legs). At the moment this exercise is either walking or riding my bike (inside or outside depending on the weather).

My bike set up for me to ride inside.

My bike set up for me to ride inside.

Obviously I don’t want to push myself too hard, so these 3 sessions of exercise don’t last very long. I have built up from as low as 1 minute of riding, or 2 minutes walking, to 3 minutes riding or 6 minutes walking per session. Between sessions I take at least an hours rest.

Because of the extreme heat here at the moment this has only been inside riding (so I can stay in the air-conditioned house). Usually I aim for 2 sessions in the morning and one session in the afternoon, but today I had my mum visit this morning so I only did one morning ride and now have to aim for 2 rides this afternoon. This will be a struggle for my because afternoons are my worst time of day for any activity, but I’m going to do my best as I promised my GP on Wednesday that I would do 3 sessions a day.

As I’ve mentioned on Twitter and Facebook, I have now got a confirmed diagnosis of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. I will do a separate post soon to update you on what this means for me in the near future, but returning to work does not look to be happening anytime soon. My GP has said I need to build up to being able to be on my feet and active for at least 4 hours at a time (with no rest breaks) before we consider returning to work, at the moment I’m at about 1 to 2 hours between my rest breaks, so it’s still a bigger job than I’m capable at the moment.

What physical activity do you do daily?

Are you working to slowly build up your capabilities?

No Comments

  1. Claire January 17, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Great news about the diagnosis! Keep at the graded exercise 🙂

    • Megan S January 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Claire. It is great news, I’m hoping it will help my insurance claim move forward to a positive conclusion!

  2. Trisha January 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Hooray for getting a diagnosis finally! I hope it gets your insurance claim process going.

    I am easing back into exercise, although here it is Thursday night and I haven’t done any cardio yet for the week. You are doing great to get in three sessions a day!

    • Megan S January 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks Trisha, I do hope it helps the insurance claim process!

      I’ve only really just started doing 3 sessions a day since Wednesday (when I saw my doctor) before that I was a lot more erratic in my routine.

      Also, I’ve just sent you an email with the link to that apron pattern. Hope you enjoy it!

      • Trisha January 18, 2014 at 4:06 am

        You’ve still done more cardio than I have this week! Thank you for sending the link to the apron pattern. I’m really looking forward to making it.

        • Megan S January 18, 2014 at 8:22 am

          You’re welcome 🙂

  3. Sue Dreamwalker January 18, 2014 at 12:46 am

    learning to pace yourself and small achievable goals is what helped me cope.. Good luck in all you are doing Megan…
    My thoughts are with you

    • Megan S January 18, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Thank you Sue, learning to pace is definitely very important. I’ll be focusing on that more in next weeks Physical Friday post when I talk about daily activities.

  4. Just Another F-Bomb January 18, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Saying “congrats on the diagnosis” seems so inappropriate but I think you know what I mean ;). Smart to slowly increase your exercise, baby steps always seem to work better than jumping in with both feet when it comes to Fibro and ME/CFS. 🙂

    • Megan S January 18, 2014 at 8:13 am

      I know what you mean, and thank you for recognising it. Baby steps are definitely very important!

  5. Jumping_Jenny_444 January 18, 2014 at 1:22 am

    That’s great that you got a diagnosis now! 🙂 I wish I had a bike…it would be a little pointless though since I would be riding the bike up a whole bunch of hills (which would tire me out 😉 ). For the time being, I walk my dog. I hope to use the treadmill that I have in my house soon too. Great post!

    • Megan S January 18, 2014 at 8:14 am

      Thank Jenn, we have lots of hills outside our house so we usually drive somewhere flatter if we’re riding outside.

  6. Life Beyond My Window January 18, 2014 at 3:51 am

    I bought a fitbit to try and help build up my strength, as I do have faced muscle deconditioning and am very weak. I currently can only walk about 300 steps at a time. I have slowly built up my total activity level by doing movements while seated. I was thinking of trying a hula hoop. Has anybody tried that?

    • Megan S January 18, 2014 at 8:20 am

      I’m looking at buying a fitbit soon, E was going to get me one for Christmas but we decided to wait until the new one was out here in Australia. I haven’t tried a hula hoop but let me know how it goes if you do, I’d be interested in that 🙂

  7. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt January 20, 2014 at 1:02 am

    I do a bit of yoga daily, and stretch out my back. Once a week I drive to a 1-1/4 hour yoga class. My aim is to walk around the block again, and I’d like to practice by walking barefoot on the beach.

    I can bike for longer than I can walk, but we’re in the throes of winter, and I don’t go out when it’s under 50°F – it’s been in the teens!

    Best on your exercise. Monitor yourself carefully – cumulative exhaustion can be avoided (I think) if you are willing to not do anything on a day when you know you shouldn’t.

    • Megan S January 20, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Thanks for the input Alicia, I know what you mean about being able to ride further than you can walk. As long as there are not too many up hills I can ride a lot longer than I can walk for. I’m definitely trying to listen to my body and avoid cumulative exhaustion. For example, I only did 6 minutes yoga yesterday with no walks or rides because I was already fairly exhausted and hadn’t slept the night before (maybe 2 hours if I was lucky)!

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