I appreciate that the last thing one who suffers a chronic disease, wants to do, is to engage in anything that gets them out of breath.
And there’s a big ‘BUT’ coming… which is the reason why this could be dangerous to do so. In a previous post I’ve written before on breathing , it explores the idea that, if you don’t exercise, your muscles will weaken and in turn requires more oxygen, putting more pressure on your body.
Overall, NOT exercising can weaken your immune system and ability to remain strong, agile and flexible as well as having less control over your breathing.
Coming from a person who was very active prior to my symptoms and initial diagnosis, I found it hard to adjust and find a good balance for what ideal exercise was. I was either all or nothing. In the beginning, I was scared to even do anything and as a result of anxiety, I halted all activities. This wasn’t healthy either and it meant I didn’t have an outlet to rid of stress or toxins, so I was in horrid place.
However, upon some more research and digging (in my pursuit of finding a solution), I discovered that I could still do some gentle exercises that would challenge me, was something I enjoyed and could do in my own time and pace. The obvious answer was yoga.
This is something I already engaged in before falling chronically ill and was surprised at myself for not continuing it in the first place, but I decided, now that I knew what illness I was dealing with, I could take the control back into my hands and dedicate more time to yoga. Less so on cardio, running and aerobic type exercise. It doesn’t mean I completely eradicated that type of exercise, but it meant I could still stay strong and focused by doing yoga.
Another ideal type of exercise is Tai Chi. I’m told by many professionals and through research that this is one of the greatest for COPD sufferers, all down to control of breathing, opening up the chest and right flow and movements of energy (qi).
- Better mood, with lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety
- Greater aerobic capacity and muscle strength
- More energy and stamina
- Enhanced flexibility, balance, and agility
- Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
- Reduced Inflammation
- Fewer falls.
One thing that massively benefits me, is not only the physical benefits, but the clarity and stress relief I get from doing my exercises. Since I work from home too, I am prone to bad posture and lower back pain. Through a combination of yoga stretches and Tai Chi, at least 3 times a week, I can address many of my own ‘pain’ points.
Coinciding with this is the ability to control breath and meditating. So REALLY focusing on getting those poses right and stretches. It doesn’t mean being perfect, but at least trying to master them the right way- it takes your mind off daily worries, work, life’s lemons, and lets you become in control of your own mind and body.
And honestly, if you’re skeptical to begin with, thinking that it is all hocus-pocus and only for tree-hugging free spirits, you can at least try it first before criticising. It’s eye-opening and like a plant growing: you will not see immediate results and it takes regular practice.
You need to nourish and water the seeds and never take your eye off that goal. So even if you’re really ‘crappy’ to begin with, that is totally okay, the journey is just as important as the destination. Malcolm Gladwell reminds us in his best-selling book, that it usually takes about 10,000 hours of input before you can start to become a master of anything.
In terms of my daily or go-to exercises, there are specific poses I love doing:
- Downward dog
- Upward facing dog
- Fish pose
- Bow pose
- Pigeon pose
- Plow pose
- Bridge pose
- Knee to chest
- King-dancer pose
In the beginning, even if you just try 10-seconds per pose, it will be beneficial to your body, getting the energy and blood flowing and ensure that your breath through the nose- out through the mouth.
I am on my journey to learn more about Tai Chi, but I have begun. And already, I love the fluid moves that somehow make me feel like a ballerina with purpose, even though I am not! I really can feel myself move bad energy out and inviting positive energy in. I think that mentality like that alone, can go a long way in making you feel better about yourself.
And the biggest achievement for me, as cliche’ as it sounds, is the enlightenment and contentment with just being, and focusing on my well-being in that time and moment. For me, it’s my own reflection time to have gratitude, be thankful, be positive, inspire to grow and to be healthy.