Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists. Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.
Today’s prompt reads as follows:
Fitness Friday…What do you do to stay fit? Tell us about your efforts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Living with a chronic illness can often mean that you are not in control over a number of different aspects in your life. More often than that not, your life is controlled by the symptoms associated with your condition. For example, on the days where the weakness and trembling in my legs is very bad then I am unable to get out of bed because I can hardly stand or walk. Therefore, my life is being controlled by symptoms because my ability to do certain tasks is dependant on the severity of the trembling and weakness in my legs. However, an aspect of our lives that we do have control over is our personal fitness and general health. Taking part in regular exercise and eating healthy are things that are in our control.
It took me a long while, however, to find exercise that suited my abilities and symptoms due to my neurological condition. Due to the pain, weakness and trembling in the legs I am unable to take part in activities such as running, or going to the gym. Furthermore, my hand and eye coordination is also affected and therefore, I am not suited to be able to take part in sports which require good hand and eye coordination. In the past, I have tried pilates and yoga but as the balance problems associated with the neurological condition I live with, I eventually had to give it up due to the falls I was experiencing when taking part in these exercise regimes. There was also the Wii Fit, that my parents and I bought together for Christmas one year, but as the balance problems causes a swaying motion when standing, the Wii Fit board would no longer register me, as it would constantly tell me to stand still, which I was doing to the best of my ability!
Then the perfect solution found me whilst watching QVC on television (well, Mum had it on much to my dismay!). The special value item for that day was an AeroPilates machine. Aeropilates is a machine that incorporates basic Pilates movements whilst supporting the spine, joints and muscles of the body and uses resistance to strengthen muscles that are weak and lengthen muscles which are tight. The machine has a bed as all the exercises require either sitting or lying down. Therefore, this form of exercise is perfect for me as it is an exercise that I can still do even when my legs are weak as it requires either lying or sitting and in addition I do not have the worry of suffering a fall and injuring myself. Furthermore, this form of exercise also concentrates on areas that I need to work on to prevent further deterioration of symptoms as the resistance training is designed to strengthen and tighten muscles which are weak and tight, which mine are due to the spastic paraparesis. The machine can also be used as a rebounding machine by which the body moves back and forth thereby elevating your heart rate and providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. It is a great machine, especially for those with problems similar to mine. To find out more about this form of exercise, then watch this great video by Marjolein Brugman who developed the machine and form of exercise:
More recently, I have also started going to a place nearby to where I live called ‘The FeelGood Factory‘. This is not a conventional gym, but they instead provide power assisted toning equipment. These pieces of equipment (there are 12 pieces of equipment in total) facilitates both passive and active exercise and as a result can be used by anyone regardless of age, mobility, weight or fitness level. Furthermore, they are even suitable for those with medical conditions such as MS, fibromyalgia, ME and arthritis. The circuit of machines exercises all the major muscle groups in the body, and you can expect results whether you actively use the machines or allow the machines to work your body. To find more about this particular form of exercise then watch the film below:
Not only does The FeelGood Factory provides a relaxing and safe workout but it is a lovely place to go with a lot of lovely and friendly faces and you are always guaranteed interesting conversations. I go approximately twice a week and me and my carer always look forward to going and seeing everyone we have had the pleasure of meeting there. If you suffer from a chronic illness and live near Llantrisant then I cannot recommend this enough and I have seen great results even after two months with various parts of my body feeling toned. It has also given me psychological benefits as I feel more relaxed, happy and even confident since I first started attending The FeelGood Factory.
There are other FeelGood Factories around the UK, to see if there is one near you then visit the Shapemaster website here.
In addition to exercising as regularly as possible, I of course take control over what goes in my body by maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, which is just as important as exercise for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Of course, I still enjoy chocolate on occasion, but I do tend to avoid junk food and instead eat a balanced and sensible diet.