Movement Is Medicine: My Strongest Tool Against Symptoms
Movement has played – and still does – a huge role on my healing journey.
If I don’t move daily, my body is very quick to send signals of stiffness, discomfort and restlessness.
Movement doesn’t always mean exercise.
It is about engaging our bodies into activity. The range is wide. Walking, biking, dancing, going up the stairs, standing and stretching, playing sports, running, doing yoga and the list goes on.
What do I need today?
When I wake up in the morning, I will usually ask myself “what kind of movement do I need today?”
If I am tired and stressed and in pain, I don’t overdo it and go for gentler movement.
If I have a lot of energy and feel great, I go for more intense activity (of course always within my limits).
When I ask myself the above question, I get to pause, become mindful and connect to my body. I listen to my needs and what is best given my current state. I really enjoy this routine.
I have also learned when I can motivate and push myself, knowing how beneficial movement is for me. For example, if I’m having a flare and I’m tired, at first, I just want to spend hours on the couch and rest. However, if I get to incorporate some gentle movement such as yoga and stretching or a nice walk outside, this always helps me feel to better. Thus, in those more difficult moments, I try to remember this feeling and connect to the post movement sensations.
Consistency and variety are key
While I have daily dedicated times for exercise, I try to break my day with movement as much as possible. Here again, I listen to my body to find those moments to lift my energy, shake out the stiffness and give me a little mental break.
Incorporating variety to my movement is also important and adds excitement and playfulness to those daily habits.
For example, I go to work by bike or I do a morning walk. This is a great way to start the day, with some time outside and to get my body moving, especially given the morning stiffness can be uncomfortable sometimes. While at work, I will intentionally take breaks from sitting, go on little walks (my goal is to get at least 10,000 steps a day), use my standing desk and do some quick stretching. Then, I try to take a longer lunch break so I can go outside again. Evenings during the week are my best time to do a workout.
When I follow this routine consistently, I see positive results in both my mental and physical health. I get to embrace those feelings of vitality, focus, motivation, improved mood and reduced stress (which as we know also strongly impacts AS symptoms). Finally, I feel more resilient when facing flares.
Movement has become one of the key pillars for my well-being. Movement is my medicine.
What is your experience with movement and exercise?
How much about your AS do you share with others?