Working Out with a Chronic Illness
Exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind with a chronic illness. Even if you have never been active, exercise can become one of your favorite activities. Ask your doctor before you start to exercise. With more medical professionals recommending exercise to their patients with chronic illness, it is imperative to learn how to exercise safely. A good exercise program will help to reduce fatigue, neuropathy, weakness, lymphedema, and a significant emotional toll. Once you start to exercise and have less pain and more energy, you will be motivated to continue.
Before You Begin
You will need to speak to your health professional. Your particular treatments and fitness level will guide the progression of the exercises. Your health and recovery process is always changing and it will be important to regularly monitor your blood count, muscle and joint pain, nausea, and fatigue. You may also have lingering impairments or health concerns that need to be evaluated by a physical therapist or lymphedema therapist.
You should meet with your doctor to review the exact nature of your medications so that you will understand the potential side effects of your treatments. This way you will be able to understand your exercise plan in relation to your unique situation. For example, Arimedex may make your joints or muscles sore. Some medications affect balance, and cardiac function, or increase the risk of dehydration.
Goals should be specific and realistic. You may want to lose weight and increase your muscle mass. If flexibility is an issue, your goal may be to improve your range of motion. Other goals might be to become stronger, have a good quality of life, better mood, or to decrease the chance of recurrence.
It is helpful to have both short term and long term exercise goals. Goals should be able to be adapted to changes in work, health, and family situations. If you are new to exercise, select an activity and set an achievable goal. Slowly add exercise to your daily activities and find something that works with your lifestyle.
Remember: Think positive and have fun!