I’m 54, my body loves moving and I’m lucky enough that it can move well despite my MS. If I’m not exercising regularly I start dreaming I am. I’ve always loved sport but I’ve been searching for that one thing that feels more like a joy than a requirement.
I found out I had MS when I was 47 – one episode of double vision for three weeks then pretty much nothing since. MRIs showed it grumbling away in the background but I was symptomless. Terrified and anxious about my health I quickly found OMS and have adopted it as much as I can ever since. My health has continued to be good and my anxiety abates the more good years I rack up.
Peak Covid last year I received a text message from a friend asking if I wanted to join them for tennis. I thought about it for around a minute and accepted. Little would I know this would be the best decision I make in years. After the first game I was hooked. I’ve gone from not playing for over ten years to now being completely obsessed and playing four times a week. It took a bit of time for my body to settle in – just the usual muscle soreness and dodgy fitness levels. Initially, I’d be looking at my watch after 20 minutes wondering how I’d last the hour. Now after two hours I’m being dragged off the court.
Before tennis I would exercise regularly but pretty much just going for walks. I’d feel pressure every day to fit it in, would love some rain as I’d have a valid excuse to be lazy, it just felt like a chore. Now, despite how I feel – whether I’m in a crap mood or feeling tired….it just doesn’t dull my enthusiasm. I’ll play in the rain, the wind…I’ve played when I’m having a bad day, just feeling low or hormonally dodgy – I just never look for an excuse. I know once I’m there and playing I’ll just forget it all and even better – I’ll leave feeling renewed and energised and happy.
In addition to all the physical benefits, tennis is a social sport. I didn’t realise I was really missing good social connections, especially during Covid. Having MS I was being super careful, I stopped going to restaurants, stopped any indoor social things and while I felt safe, I also felt I was missing my need for people. My regular doubles games with friends filled the gap…and more. ‘Sets in the City’ became my new love (move over husband).
I now play with the Sets in the City girls, I’ve joined a weekly squad, play with my husband and have lessons. It’s interesting how finding one passion can change so many other things in your life. I’m fitter, stronger, calmer, happier, more motivated and energetic and continue to sleep well, manage stress and navigate menopause.
The benefits of exercise and any degree of endorphin release cannot be understated. The combination of good hormones and some ball bashing stress release can even outweigh a 6-0 hammering. The fact that I can now play for hours has given me a real and valid respect and appreciation for my body. It’s now a constant affirmation – everything I do – the diet, the sport, the flax oil (yuk), vitamin D and yes, even the Copaxone – it’s all working for me. OMS, and now tennis, are keeping my mind where I need it – optimistic, determined and certain that the lifestyle I consciously choose each day is giving me the best chance of continued good health.