No, this isn’t about that type of exercise.
Of course, exercise is important for everyone. It’s critical for people inflicted with multiple sclerosis. Many of us are too tired to exercise, so we find excuses to skip it. Skipping the exercise makes us weaker over time. Being weaker makes us more tired. Being more tired makes us less likely to exercise and the circle goes on.
We are all susceptible to this, but the cycle accelerates for people with MS. The disease itself causes fatigue, which steps on the gas pedal for this spiral towards poor fitness.
Two months ago my MS doctor gave me a hard time because I have not been exercising. I said that I had done tai chi once a few weeks ago. She said that’s good but it doesn’t cut it.
For some reason, this time it really struck a chord. It has really hit home that I have this disease now and that there is no cure so I will have it for life. That means for the rest of my life I will be taking strong medications. And that for the rest of my life I really need to be serious about my diet and exercise. It’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, an endless marathon. This is not a new year’s resolution that gets pushed to the side two weeks later when work gets busy. This is permanently adopting a new lifestyle. This is having a choice. Am I willing to live more healthy if it could possibly make a difference in dancing with my daughter at her wedding some day, versus being in a wheelchair for it?
My wife is incredibly supportive. We have a family membership at a local fitness center, but we both know that it will be tough for me to stick with the commitment of going there in the evenings. We have an extra bay in our garage and I suggested turning that into our workout room. My wife knew that it would still be prone to out of sight, out of mind. She insisted that we turn one end of our bedroom into a workout area. I have no choice but to walk past the equipment at least a few times a day and hence, much tougher for me to make excuses not to use it.
I am a fan of bodyweight exercises so my emphasis has been on that. It also fits my lifestyle in that I go on frequent business trips. While most of the hotels have a fitness center, it’s too easy for me to skip it. If my workout it doing pushups or squats in my hotel room, I’m much more likely to actually do it.
In my bedroom I have the following:
- A power tower. This is a device that allows you to do many body weight exercises. Pull-ups, dips, knee tucks etc.
- A back extension bench
- A recumbent bicycle for cardio
- Some lightweight dumbbells
I block off time each day when my wife keeps the kids occupied for me to do the recumbent bike. The rest I do randomly as I walk by the equipment. A couple of sets of pull-ups now. Some crunches and back extensions when I walk through later. I pick one or two body parts to focus on each day, in addition to the bike.
Two months is not a long time but so far, so good. I have exercised almost every day that I have been home since my doctor made me see the light of my new priorities.
It’s a little ironic that coming down with a debilitating disease is making me get in shape and be healthy again. I may have MS but for all that I know, the MS motivated diet and exercise may prevent me from having a heart attack or something else that might have occurred otherwise. Life works like that.