“Exercise should be regarded as a tribute to the heart.” ~ Gene Tunney
When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I had no idea what that was. I believed Arthritis was something that old people were afflicted with, and I was not old. What I did know was that it was painful to get out of bed in the morning (the first half hour of my day was spent hobbling around as my stiff joints rebelled at any kind of movement); It was difficult for me to make a fist as my fingers were more like claws, and the fatigue which is a constant part of the disease, threatened to take over my life.
Exercise was therefore the last thing I had any intention of attempting to do. As a result, my weight began to balloon. It became a vicious cycle…the more weight I put on, the less I wanted to move and I therefore put on even more weight, which increased the pain in my joints.
I finally decided that I had to do something to improve my situation. Despite having misgivings about exercising with painful joints, I started walking in the mornings (as well as changing my diet), in an attempt to lose weight. As I began to walk more frequently and I started losing weight, I realized that I was feeling less pain in my joints, which made me increase the distances I was walking, resulting in me losing even more weight. The cycle was now spinning in my favor.
Eventually I graduated from walking, to running, then joining a gym to add toning and aerobics, which ultimately led to my discovery that I actually enjoy exercising. Today, I still experience some pain and stiffness in my joints, but nowhere near what I used to suffer through before.
I believe exercise is the best medicine because:
· The health benefits of regular exercise are undeniable. Many studies indicate that people who exercise regularly extend their life expectancy rate;
· There is no expensive equipment necessary to start an exercise programme. Investing in a good pair of sneakers and a skipping rope when I travel, ensures that I can exercise wherever I go;
· You can exercise on your own if you prefer, but I enjoy the social interaction of exercising with a group of people who love it as much as I do;
and most importantly,
· Regular exercise can actually contribute to reducing, or eliminating medication you may be taking for a particular ailment.
I am living proof of this.