Demons are real.
I’m not talking about the ‘hide under your bed, scary movie, chase you in your dreams demons', I’m talking about demons that have real names like Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Dementia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Parkinson’s and others. For many, receiving a diagnosis of this magnitude changes their life forever, and rightly so. A diagnosis brings to light many things. For some, it brings a strange sense of relief as a myriad of questions finally has an answer. It may heighten awareness of life and loss, love, and pain, joy, and grief. It also brings an increased awareness of how the body responds to treatment and to exercise.
Receiving a serious medical diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean the end of all exercise. In fact, in many cases, exercise has been shown to markedly improve symptoms and side effects of the illness and its accompanying treatment. Even as I write this column I received an invitation for a Cancer Exercise Specialist Certification training to increase my own knowledge and training to work with those in the various stages of cancer treatment. And the monster that is Diabetes affects 79 million Americans. That’s right. 79 million Americans have blood values that place them in the range of having Pre-Diabetes. For them, exercise is more important now than ever.
Recent groundbreaking research in the area of Parkinson’s Disease shows the marked improvement of symptoms when a patient participates in regular exercise, specifically forced rate cycling at a rate of 70-80 rpms for a continuous 20-30 minutes. Allison Topperwein, who was diagnosed with Early Onset PD, is a perfect example of how exercise pushes back the side effects of a disease as well as fight depression and loneliness. Watch her story here. Dementia patients can experience improvement with regular exercises that include multi-plane activities and exercises that cross the mid-plane of the body.
Arthritis sufferers receive proven results from The Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program that was co-developed with the YMCA of the USA. Studies show individuals attending the classes have experienced “less pain, improved joint function, increased muscle strength, and better-perceived quality of life and well-being.”
From the Alzheimer’s Society comes this statement, “Leading a physically active lifestyle can have a significant impact on well-being. Exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and can improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia. It includes a wide range of physical activities from walking across the room or gardening to dancing.” For a complete reading that includes examples of exercises for people experiencing different stages of dementia, visit http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/factsheet/529.
One of the most dangerous things a person who receives a serious medical diagnosis can do is stop moving. Depression is the bully of Diagnosis. It waits in the corner, allowing the person with the Diagnosis to stop caring and give up. I’ve watched this in my own family. Fortunately, I have the privilege of seeing people every day who, although carrying the burden of a serious medical diagnosis, refuse to give up, refuse to stop moving, and inspire those around them to keep moving forward.
When is exercise not appropriate?
If you experience pain while taking part, or after increasing activity levels, stop the exercise and seek medical advice. Remember, physical activity is not recommended for people who feel tired or unwell. Above all else, discuss exercise with your doctor. Then, seek out a fitness professional with the training and knowledge to both understand your diagnosis and develop and exercise plan that best suits your needs. Need help finding a trained professional? Click here to find a Certified Medical Exercise Specialist in your area.
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Simply put, I love life. I love the body, all things healthy, all types of movement and a good belly laugh. My hope is to share some of my experience and knowledge with you so that you can love YOUR life and be an influencer of others.
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Building a StoryBrand with Donald Miller