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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:

Dear 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.
Love,

Self

How do you inspire yourself to exercise, even when you don’t want to?

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Comments

  • arden
    5 years ago

    Its these little daily decisions that help to free us from the downward drag to apathy or pain prison. Will I do the things I know I ought to do to keep healthy? Sometimes for a migraineur the list gets long and bothersome but we have to stay with it and be diligent and take that walk or do that stretch, eat that meal or get that relax or face the consequences. What we choose to do with our body and with our mind and emotions can make a huge difference, now and in the long run.

  • Syeager
    5 years ago

    Hi Janet,

    I too find that exercise helps me tremendously! I regularly exercise 4 days a week. I too suffer from both an achy autoimmune disease and migraines. Even when I am suffering from a migraine, exercise helps me (I know I am the minority here). I don’t know if it is the release of the endorphins, or the chance to focus on something other than my pain, but when I am finished, I can rate my pain at least 2 points lower, if not more. No doubt, the first 10 minutes may feel murderous and they may not be pretty, but once I get going, I feel better, even in the cold weather.

    My biggest motivator is giving myself an out. I always tell myself that I can quit after 10 minutes. I tell myself if I feel terrible after 10 minutes, then I can just turn around and go home. Feeling better is worth 10 minutes of trying. And I nearly always feel better after 10 minutes.

    I have had this pact with myself for 3 years now. In 3 years I have gone home 15 times. I do not feel bad for those 15 times. In each of those times, I was listening to my body, and respecting what my body was telling me.

    There is something about knowing that I only have to try for 10 minutes when I don’t feel well, is comforting. But, after 10 minutes when I am starting to feel great, I don’t want to stop. I keep going. And I feel pride in myself for taking care of myself, and for not letting the pain get in the way.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    5 years ago

    Syeager,

    Like you, I try to give myself a limit – mine is 15 minutes. Usually, if I can make it that long, I can keep going. Aerobic m ovement isn’t an option for me, or anything strenuous. However, just moving is often enough to keep me going and at the very least keep me from getting worse. It’s amazing what even stretching will do for a body…

    ~Ellen

  • Jan Piller
    5 years ago

    LOL!! that’s awesome!! Tomorrow it’s supposed to go up to 8 degrees and the ice and snow on the sidewalks should melt. It supposed to rain all day but I don’t care – if the sidewalks are free of ice – I’m going!! Thanks for the inspiration!

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