A Brisk Walk Made Me Pain-Free (for a bit)
The first week of December, my sister and I drove the nine hours south to my parents’ house in Florida. As the owner of a bustling local retail store, it was hard for me to escape for more than a few days during the busiest sales time of the year, but I’m glad we made a quick getaway. (Or, as we Geddis family members are apt to joke, a “Ged-a-way.” Try not to laugh too hard. )
Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called psoriatic arthritis. In truth, I’ve had it for quite awhile but didn’t know the name of what was wrong. Most autoimmune diseases and chronic pain disorders are marked by alternating periods of active illness and calm—“flares” and “remission.” For the most part, I live in an in-between zone. My body always hurts a little bit, but once in a very blue moon my body feels great, and pretty often it’s the opposite: I get really achy and it’s hard to move around smoothly.
As you can imagine, sitting in a car as either the passenger or the driver the entire day can be taxing on anyone, let alone someone with arthritis. When Jim and I made our epic cross-country road trip this summer, he and I were equipped with ice packs, muscle rub, wrist braces, ibuprofen, pillows, and other items to make the journey more comfortable for two people with chronic pain. I didn’t think to prepare at all for the relatively short drive to Florida with my sister this time around, though, and when I awoke the day after our journey, I felt a little rough.
What I wanted to do was drink my coffee while lying on the couch reading my book. It seemed like a lazy, I’m-on-vacation kind of thing to do at your parents’ house.
Instead I laced up my sneakers, put my headphones in, and went for a forty-minute walk. I walk to work and around Athens pretty frequently, but I’ve not been keeping up with exercise for exercise’s sake in quite awhile. Going on a walk in my parents’ neighborhood in order to get my aching body moving was not what I was in the mood to do, but it seemed like the smart decision.
And oh my word. I felt INCREDIBLE afterward.
I got that “runner’s high” people talk about (though I get it from walking briskly—I’m no runner) and my knees and back went from feeling creaky and tired to feeling pain-free for the better part of a day. I was in such a good mood I actually caught myself saying the following out loud in the shower: “Man, I feel awesome.”
So here’s a Note to Self:
Next time you think you are too busy or too lazy or too tired or too whatever to take a walk, go take a walk. Listen to an audiobook or a favorite album and get your heart rate up. Escape the world of computers and work and work and more work. Just do this one thing for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it.
How do you inspire yourself to exercise, even when you don’t want to?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?