I am not a natural-born exerciser. No one in my family is athletic. There were no evening walks and no one played sports. We didn’t run unless we were being chased. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, my rheumatologist told me I needed to walk half an hour every day. I thought he was crazy. I couldn’t walk from one end of my house to the other without being out of breath.
As it turns out, that was the standard advice I would get from every doctor I saw. But I finally found one who explained it differently. He said that if I was only able to walk for five minutes, then that is where I should start. Stay at five minutes for a couple of weeks and then expand to 10 minutes. This way I could slowly work up to being able to walk for 30 minutes.
The next roadblock I threw up was that there wasn’t a good place to walk near my house. I live on a main highway with no shoulders or breakdown lanes. And the closest side street is almost as dangerous. It’s a cut-off road that’s most often used as a racetrack for people in a big rush.
With lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and a bunch of other chronic diseases, there aren’t a whole lot of choices for me when it comes to exercise. I can’t run, can’t ride a bicycle — I have no athletic abilities at all. Whatever I do needs to be easy on my joints. So that leaves walking and swimming.
We recently attended a birthday party for the youngest grandchild at the local community center and aquatics park. I’ve been there before but mainly just in the meeting rooms. This time, I walked around and checked out the entire place.
Besides the meeting rooms and the outdoor pool that I had already seen, I found an indoor walking track, a regulation size indoor pool, and a therapy pool. The therapy pool is 98 degrees and the water circulates like a giant hot tub. They also offer water aerobics and yoga classes.
Swimming and water aerobics are easy on the joints, so I don’t really have an excuse not to try it. It’s not far from my home, so I can go whenever I want. It’s indoors, so it’s available no matter the season or the weather.
I probably won’t be swimming laps anytime soon. But I think I have finally found something that I want to do and that I’m able to do. It’s pretty rare when those two things come together.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.