Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with exercise.
On one hand, I feel better when I incorporate movement into my daily life. It can feel good, both physically and emotionally, knowing that my chronic pain hasn’t completely taken away the joy of moving my body.
It’s also nice to realize that there is still plenty I can do.
On the other hand, it’s also super easy to over-do it. If my mind wanders and I don’t notice when something doesn’t feel right, I run the risk of hurting myself. And who wants that?
But most of the time, the potential benefits of exercising far outweigh the negatives. If nothing else, the days I’m a little sore from a workout are days that I know I’m at least hurting for a reason. ;P
Here are my top three tips for making workouts work for you:
- Honor where you are.
You’ve made exercise a priority, and that is great. But if you’re fatigued and hurting, it might be time to rethink your original workout plan.
Instead of a challenging session of weight-lifting or cardio, go easy on yourself. You’ll still reap plenty of benefits from doing gentle yoga or taking a short walk.
- Always leave something in the tank for later.
Pushing yourself beyond your abilities in the name of health is counter-productive. Check in with yourself.
How do you feel? If you’re doing ok and want to keep exercising, cool. But if your workout is making you feel so run down that you don’t think you’ll be able to function in your day-to-day activities later, it’s way past time to pump the brakes.
- Celebrate your wins.
Those of us with chronic pain are so used to thinking about all the things we can’t do, it barely registers when we experience a small win.
Lifted heavier today? Awesome!
Realized you were completely wiped out after your warm-up and called it a day? Excellent! You made the effort. Plus, you get extra points for listening to your body and making the healthiest choice for you in the moment.
I wish I could guarantee that these tips will make you love exercise, but I can’t.
But I do think that following them will make you a lot less likely to hate it.