Exercise and Chronic Illness

Once I stop exercising, it’s hard to get going again.

I’ve been doing some easy yoga classes at home (through Yoga Download), but I wanted to get back into going to some kind of class. The last time I remember going to a class was last summer, when I went to a ballet class and was worried about whether I could make it through the whole class without using the bathroom. I did, but as soon as I got down to the subway platform after class, I had to go. I hurried up the escalators (and if you’ve been on the metro in DC, you know how long some of those escalators are), and ran into a hotel near the metro entrance to use the bathroom. Then I took a cab home and worried about whether I’d make it home.

So needless to say, since then I’ve been a little hesitant to go to a class.

But I’ve been feeling better, so I decided it was time to try it. I signed up for a free outdoor yoga class. I was worried about not being strong enough and in good enough shape to get through the whole class, but figured it was free and outdoors and if I needed to rest or leave early I could. It didn’t occur to me until the day of the class to worry about the bathroom situation at an outdoor yoga class, which seemed like a big sign of progress to me.

The day of the class came and I had to get lab work done in the morning. And then when I got home I started feeling lightheaded. And it was really hot outside. And I was tired from getting up early to go to the lab before work. Although the class wasn’t until the evening and I felt fine by then, I had already talked myself out of going. I think every time I try to get back into going to exercise classes I have at least one false start like this.

Next I decided to go to a beginner ballet class. I’ve been wanting to start dancing again for awhile. I told my therapist I was going to go to a class, figuring that would make me more likely to actually go. It was really hot again the day of the class, but I went. On the bus on the way there, I told myself the hardest part (getting myself to go) was over.

It was great! It was the right level. At one point during barre exercises I wished I had my water bottle at the barre with me and started to worry about passing out, but I reminded myself that I didn’t actually feel like I was going to pass out and that I could go get my water bottle at any time. I made it through the class (it was 15 minutes shorter than I had thought it was going to be, so that helped), but even if I hadn’t it would have been ok.

Now we’ll see if I make it to outdoor yoga this week…

How do you handle exercise with a chronic illness?