Sunday, 4 May 2014

Live Well: Be At Your Best

This post details the first item on my list of strategies to ‘live well, even if you can’t get well’.

Maintain the highest level of physical wellbeing
 that your condition allows.

It is important to be as fit and strong as possible to:
  • give the body the best chance to heal and recover from any setbacks from illness or injury (or surgery etc.). 
  • increase stamina and leave one less prone to fatigue. 
  • strengthen muscles to support joints better and reduce the risk of joint pain and injury. 
  • improve coordination and maintain a good sense of balance, reducing the risk of falls and injury. 
  • maintain joint mobility which allows one to be as independent as possible.

I believe that everyone, regardless of health status, has the opportunity to attain a peak level of physical fitness.  Each of us will have a different peak, especially if we are limited by physical illness, injury or disability. It might even change from day to day for the same person.

Whether one is able-bodied or bedridden, there is always something to be done to be as fit as possible. It might be small physical exercises in bed, or simply a meditation to reduce stress and improve blood pressure.  A small walk to the front gate might be all that some can manage, or a workout on gym equipment might be most appropriate for others, depending on fitness goals.

The point is making the effort to do it. Healthcare professionals can tailor a program of exercise and self-care to meet your needs.  I recommend consulting your healthcare professional(s) before starting any new fitness program.

It is important to know about your diagnosis and condition; to know the treatments and their pros and cons. Be alert to your particular symptoms, warning signs and limitations in order to have reasonable expectations about what can be achieved.  

Finding the right treatments will help you to be your best. Again, this should be done in consultation with healthcare professionals.

My tips for peak fitness 

  • Choose a balance of activity that keeps you as strong and fit as possible without exacerbating your condition.
  • Choose activities that are appropriate for your level of fitness and physical ability.
  • Too much rest can reduce one’s fitness, causing de-conditioning which will make it harder to manage daily life.
  • Keep up to date with information about the condition.  Support and advocacy groups can be good sources of information. Healthcare professionals can guide you to reputable sources of information.
  • Ask healthcare professionals from time to time about new research findings and treatment options.  If you don’t ask, you may never find out.
  • Be open to new treatment ideas and be willing to experiment from time to time.
  • Give new treatment plans enough time to work before dismissing them, especially if the treatment involves multiple changes to your routine management. Some treatments take a minimum of 6 weeks to effect change whilst others may take 3–6 months or longer to show results.
  • Sometimes the side effects of treatments are just as troublesome as the original complaint. You may need to decide whether the benefits are worth the side effects. Small adjustments can sometimes make significant improvements.
What do you do to maintain fitness and be at your best?

1 comment:

  1. In response to my own question, I realised that I haven't given specific examples. I maintain fitness with hydrotherapy twice a week. I have an exercise plan that is graduated for varying fitness levels, depending on how I am feeling. I am compliant with my medication regime. I am a member of my local Lupus/Sjogren's/Scleroderma support group which keeps me up to date with new research, new products and services and has introduced me to others who are dealing with the same issues and we can compare notes and support each other. Through trial and error I am learning to judge my physical limits, taking notes of my body's signals and adjusting my activity levels accordingly.