How Exercise Helped Me Change My Life?


It's not a secret-exercising is something that every human being on the face of the earth should do. Read WebMD, go to your doctor's office, visit a gym or even a spa-articles on the subject of enhancing your life through exercise abound!

When you have a chronic disease, it's even more important to maintain a daily physical routine. As a person who lives with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I am living proof that this is so.

While growing up I lived with parents who thought that exercise, in a formal setting, was only necessary for the "elite", who didn't "work" for a living. They truly believed (and still do) that sweating was somehow something to avoid at all costs. Due to this way of existence, both my parents have developed a myriad of health problems that otherwise could have been either totally avoided or at the very least, not become as serious.

My mom suffers from high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. My father has had bypass surgery and a valve replacement, he also has borderline diabetes and severe memory problems due to clogged arteries. Both parents were told if they had watched their diets and had simply walked two miles a day that most of their problems would not have needed to have the amount of care or medications that they now endure. My mom has more or less taken this advice to heart-she monitors her blood, watches her diet and now walks. However, because she has only worn high heels for most of her 77 years-she walks in them! My father still refuses to change. As a result, he's not allowed to drive and my mother's afraid to even leave him alone, fearing he might walk outside and forget where he is.

I have always had some form of physical movement in my daily activity line-up. In fact, my minor in college was musical theatre dance. When my disease was at it's worst and I found myself barely able to stand the pain in my feet, I still maintained a daily "hobble" of at least two miles, plus 20 minutes of stretching and strengthening exercises. I believe this is what kept me from becoming a complete cripple.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the two forms of movement and the regiment I continue to use helps me maintain movement in my joints. It also allows me to keep flexibility and tone in my muscles. It builds and keeps the strength in my cartilage. And of course, it helps me keep my weight down and my cardiovascular health up. Many people with chronic disease also suffer from depression. The American Psychiatric Association has recommended exercise to help combat this effect to those suffering from its affliction. Many reports that have been written confirm that many who suffer from mild to moderate symptoms may well be able to stop using anti-depressants if they get out there and do a daily regiment.

Without this program, the American Medical Association agrees that rather than my controlling my disease, my disease would be controlling me. I've seen first-hand fellow RA patients who have fallen into the "old school" of thought, that we must rest and relax as much as possible. A cousin of my husbands can barely feed herself, is relegated to living on the first floor of her home and if she even wants to walk down her driveway to get the mail, she must use a walker. If she had just taken something as simple as a walk five times a week, she would have been able to do so much more now that she is in her 60's. While we both take the same medications, I am able to do far more to keep up what many around us would consider being a "regular" life. I work full-time, write part-time, take care of my family and home. I would say that 95% of the time, no one can detect that I have something as serious as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I do believe that exercise is the reason behind my ability to even type this article.

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