As time marches on, so do my personal health challenges. The once despised "I'm getting old" comment I would hear from clients as they discussed their changing health history, has become more understood and accepted by me. I feel it is wise and helpful to share some of my own struggles with exercise adherence and how it relates to illnesses.
Normal aging takes it's toll on every individual, myself included, of course. Despite taking care of myself with proper nutrition and exercise for most of my life, certain ailments have settled in my body and have decided to call it home.
My workout program has had to change over the years for various reasons. The most recent reason is arthritis. Not the occasional joint achiness that visited me through the years. This arthritis is felt all day and every day. It affects how I use my body and how I feel emotionally. There are "good" days and there are "bad" days, but that just becomes relative terminology. The pain is always there. After trying some medical relief to no avail, I was advised by my doctor to continue exercising and just do what I can do. After going over in detail what I have been doing in my fitness program, I was assured that the arthritis is probably just in my genes.
I am careful about overusing any pain or anti-inflammatory medicine. I may take 200-600 mg. of ibuprofen 1-2x/week when the pain is unmanageable. I generally rely on icing throughout the day and using my stationary bike set at a low resistance, for 35-45 minutes, 5-7x/week. This helps maintain my mobility and strength to some degree.
I still continue to do strength work. I use light weight and high repetitions and work at an intensity according to the pain. I believe that if my initial strength was not as high as it was, I would be in a much worse health position.
I understand clients who are trying to deal with pain management. I recommend working around existing health issues and continuing a fitness program, with the necessary modifications. Obviously not every movement will be advisable but there is a workable program for every individual. The important aspect is to continue working on functional strength and mobility. Just to do what you can do. The key is to keep plugging along. If you stop, your strength will decrease and the pain will get worse. Good motivation to keep on truckin"!
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