I got this email from one of our readers and thought it would be a good post. If you have any suggestions for a topic or a question, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to try and answer on the blog or in private.
“Dear Kai, I’ve had PD for about six years and I’m finding it difficult to motivate myself to exercise. I’ve been a moderate on and off exerciser most of my life. I’m tired a lot and it’s easier to put it off for another day. Any suggestions?”
Motivating yourself to exercise can be extra challenging with a chronic illness. Fatigue, tremors, dystonia, balance issues, and physical weakness can add up to saying “maybe tomorrow”. And if you’re a person who didn’t exercise much before you’re diagnosis, it can be a tall order to start exercising after. But we all know the mantra that beyond for normal wellness, we with PD must exercise as much as we can. Here are a few ways to help.
Make it fun – There is much ongoing research on which exercises are best for PWP but I say the ones that you enjoy will be the ones you do the most. There are so things to choose from and you may need to try a few before you find something you like. Is there something you did when you were younger that you enjoyed and could start up again?
Make it convenient – Do things that are close in proximity to where you live or work. Research shows that the farther away your exercise place is, the less frequently you will go.
Figure out your personality – Are you the type of person who will show up more often when you are accountable to someone? Then find an exercise buddy. Aside from the workout, you could get a cup of coffee afterwards and get a twofer of exercise and a nice chat with a friend. Do you prefer having a set day and time each week or would rather have flexibility if your schedule differs a lot?
Make it a family activity – If you have kids or grand kids, doing exercise together is a great way to bond. How about an easy hike, or hit some balls at a golf range. Or while you’re waiting for your kids at their sports practice, instead of waiting on the sidelines, walk around the field or neighborhood.
Write it down – Keep track of your exercise and you’ll see your progress and accomplishments. When you look at your monthly calendar and see how many times you actually did exercise, it can encourage you to keep going.
Change it up – I get bored doing the same exercises all the time so I do a variety of things. Kickboxing one day a week, walk with someone another day, go to the gym, do yoga at home, swim, walk on the sand. It keeps it interesting and fresh.
Cut yourself some slack – When you miss a day, that’s ok. Just get back at it the next day. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and are always looking at what we didn’t do, instead of what we did accomplish.
Every little bit helps – You don’t always need a hardcore workout. It seems we have designed our world to eliminate physical movement in our day to day lives. In his book The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner talks about the places in the world where their populations live longer and healthier, and that one of the common traits they have is they incorporate exercise into their daily lives. So walk to the store if you can, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Ask your yard person to come every other time and you do the lawn on the alternate weeks. There are many ways to incorporate movement into our daily lives if we look for them.