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15 September 2021

Making exercise fun

"The post-MS version of myself realizes that regular movement is more important now than ever. And in order for exercise to be a regular part of my life, it needs to be enjoyable and sustainable."

When I reflect back on the year and a half since my MS diagnosis, I think about how my attitude on movement has changed.

The pre-MS version of myself had the attitude that exercise was an “all or nothing” kind of thing. I would find myself getting easily discouraged to exercise during those weeks (or months) when motivation was harder to come by.

The post-MS version of myself realizes that regular movement is more important now than ever. And in order for exercise to be a regular part of my life, it needs to be enjoyable and sustainable. This means that I’m less concerned with the exercise itself and more interested in keeping my body moving.

While I’m still in the initial stages of my life with MS, I’m inspired to live as great a life as I possibly can. When it comes to movement and exercise, here are a few ways my mindset has changed for the better:

I like to find fun ways to exercise and move my body.

It’s easiest to exercise and move my body when it involves doing something I enjoy. Earlier this year, I signed up at a local yoga studio. I’d never tried yoga before and thought it would be a fun way to strengthen my balance and stability – something I’ve struggled with since my MS diagnosis.

There are days when my affected leg feels wobbly and any attempt to balance is out of the question. I’m still very much a yoga novice but it’s something that I’ve been having a lot of fun with and I feel like it’s something I’ll continue to enjoy.

Should there come a time when yoga loses its sparkle, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to pick something else up that is equally fun and encourages me to move my body.

I focus on appreciating the little things.

I am fortunate in that MS hasn’t had a significant physical impact on me. Since my most recent relapse, I’m back to walking and running without trouble.

Although I’ve more or less made a full recovery, it isn’t lost on me that this could all change in an instant. Each morning I’m able to get out of bed, walk to the kitchen, and make myself a cup of coffee, is a morning I’m grateful for.

When it comes to exercise and movement, I try to weave this same thread of gratitude through whatever it is I might be doing. In life, nothing is promised and even more so with an MS diagnosis.

Even the smallest of movements are meaningful – whether it’s that walk to the kitchen or a sunny stroll around the neighborhood (exercise and Vitamin D in one outing is always a plus!). 

I try not to get caught up in designing the perfect exercise routine.

In the time since my diagnosis, I have worried much less about sticking to a “perfect” exercise routine. Instead, I focus my efforts on finding more ways to sprinkle movement into my day-to-day routine (i.e., short walks during working breaks, biking/walking vs. driving, etc.).

This isn’t to say that developing an exercise routine is a bad thing, far from it actually. Scheduling out exercise allows me to stay motivated and ensure I have movement penciled into my days. However, it’s important to allow for flexibility so that I don’t get discouraged when I miss a few days here and there. 

I have grace with myself.

It’s been so important to remember to give myself grace. There are going to be days where I struggle to exercise and that’s okay. Life can be busy in its own right, not to mention that I have MS to contend with.

I’m still working to find the balance between pushing through and giving myself rest when needed. I don’t need to be perfect because at the end of the day, I’m incorporating regular movement and exercise into my life for myself – so that I can live my best life with MS.