Thursday, June 16, 2011

Exercise As Medicine

Image found here. 

The day before yesterday, I hit the gym and pool. I planned on my usual twice-weekly stretching exercises followed by a half hour float and kick in the pool. But after reading the results of this study, I decided to experiment with adding some simple resistance training to my routine.

June 2, 2011 (Denver, Colorado) — Resistance training reduces symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), compared with aerobic exercise or no exercise at all, according to research presented here at the American College of Sports Medicine 58th Annual Meeting.
Patients with GAD tend to be physically inactive, although exercise training has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms in healthy adults and patients with chronic disease, and to benefit patients with major depressive disorder.
Even though I can be a real worrywart, I'm thinking that I probably wouldn't meet the diagnostic criteria for GAD. But still I was intrigued by the concept of these exercises being therapeutic, since I had read other studies that linked successful reduction of fatigue after progressive resistance training exercises were begun in patients with multiple sclerosis.
The beneficial effect of progressive resistance training on all scores was maintained at follow-up after further 12 weeks. Fatigue, mood and quality of life all improved following progressive resistance training, the beneficial effect being maintained for at least 12 weeks after end of intervention.
I talked to a knowledgeable staff member at the community center about my interest, and he was very helpful and interested in my situation. He gave me an orientation to all of the weight machines and cautioned me to begin very, very slowly. I had been cruising around several physical therapy sites and after reading several articles on resistance training for the chronically ill, thought I understood what the basic concepts of this therapy was: to begin at the patients base level, to start with low amounts of reps and low weight amounts for short periods of time, then gradually increase.

I chose a few machines that would exercise my large muscle groups, and cautiously performed a paltry ten reps at very light weight settings on four machines. As I wiped the machines off with cleaning spray, I thought that cleaning the machines took longer than actually using them. It seemed almost silly. I hadn't even begun to perspire.

So I changed into my suit and hit the pool, then headed home. I wondered if this minor addition to my exercise routine would change anything. As I drove back home, I didn't think that I felt any differently than I usually did after leaving the community center.

When I woke up yesterday, I knew better. Good grief. I spent the day battling overall body aches, a slight fever, and an inability to do anything but remain horizontal.

As I grumpily mulled things over on the couch, I wondered: Did those few minutes lifting extremely small amounts of weight really do this to me? Or was I heading into a low-energy day regardless of my exercise routine? How could I have added this new exercise in a better way? Should I have skipped swimming? Should I just abandon this idea all together?

Grumble, grumble.

Here's what I am thinking: I'll give myself time to recover enough to get myself back to the gym, which might take another day or two. Then I will go back, but I will attempt five reps on just two machines. After which I'll hit the pool for twenty minutes instead of thirty.

What do y'all think? I'll keep you posted.


Tricia said...

What do I think? I think you are in incredible inspiration to all of us. We learn so much from you and are encouraged to try harder to take care of ourselves. Thank you for that!

Anonymous said...

Boy I hear you! I had a gungho rheumy who kept coming up with these big exercise plans, and would listen to me when I explained that I was exhausted afterwards.

Now working with someone who does "get it", and she's got me working with a Physical Therapist, who is very helpful and cautious.

But we got to keep trying.

stephanie said...

February of this year I finally went to PT, and he is someone who is knowledgeable in exercises for people with joint pain (I had no pain at the time since I had just finished taking prednisone). My PT slowly increased my resistance training exercises, giving me bands to work with at home. I joined a gym for the cardio machines (elyptical, exercise bike, etc.) and my PT went with me to the gym once to tell me which machines to use and not use, as some are not good for the body issues I have. I have never felt more strong in my life, and my pain level is only a 1 in the mornings until I move around and then I have no pain (as compared to an 8 level prior to exercising). I don't know if my body is going thru a good time or its due entirely to exercise, but either way, I feel too strong to ever quit exercising again. And by the way, I had never exercised in my life before (I'm 54) as I totally hate it, but now its just a great motivational tool.

Andrea said...

Good on you Julia! Who knows if your soreness is a coincidence or not - because as you know, sometimes horizontal days DON'T have any rhyme or reason. But I think your plan of recovering and then starting again ever so slowly is very positive and sensible. There are just SO many positives to adding some resistance training into our daily lives, it's worth persisting - but ever so slowly. Looking forward to hearing how you go.

Jamey Lacy said...

Yeah Julia! (I think this will counteract "that recipe" on last post LOL).
This IS something I can help with and know (from long time profession in personal training/nutrition AND, from my personal battle with multiple chronic illnesses). I'm going to try to find your e-mail to see if I can help you more with your new program...but do stick with it. You might try the pool first because it will help your body (muscles/ligaments/tendons) to "warm." Also, go REALLY light on resistance (weights) and more emphasis on good form and repetitions... Healing Hugs, Jamey

Anonymous said...

You so courageous to try new things, when I'm always thinking "wait". Don't work yourself too hard.