IBD Awareness

Making Exercise Your Superpower

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that adults should strive for 150 minutes of exercise per week, or 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? The type of exercise could include moderate-intensity aerobics, vigorous-intensity aerobics, or muscle-strengthening activities. If you go beyond the 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week recommendation, then you will reap even more health benefits. So how do we as busy human beings make time for exercise in our daily routine?

How Exercise Affects Your Brain
Photo by Getty Images on Scientific American

First, it is important to define each category of exercise. Aerobics is more commonly known as cardio which gets your heart rate moving faster. Moderate-intense activities could include fast-walking, water aerobics, bike riding, playing tennis, or mowing your lawn. Vigorous-intense exercises include jogging or running, swimming laps, or playing basketball. Muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, gardening, and some forms of yoga. A combination of one or more of these activities can help you get stronger and feel healthier.

I think everyone knows the benefits of consistent exercise, but what most people lack is the motivation to start or keep going. With a chronic illness, it has been hard to exercise regularly. Before I was diagnosed, I was a regular gym rat who loved lifting weights. Now, I focus more on cardio and light, strengthening activities like yoga. During the pandemic, I fell in love with running every morning before work and it was a great way to stay fit (and sane!) while not being able to access gyms. During a flare though, I would recommend doing light exercise to avoid causing more pain and soreness.

The best way to exercise consistently is to create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. If you need to wake up an hour earlier to hit the gym, go to bed an hour earlier to avoid losing sleep. My exercise routine changes almost every week depending on how I am feeling. I typically wake up early to either ride the stationary bike, run, go for a walk, or do some meditation/yoga. I find that doing the same thing over and over again gets boring and is not sustainable. As the warmer months approach, I am hoping to get outside and exercise more often than. The benefits I have noticed from consistent exercise are more energy, better mood, reduced stress, and overall feeling stronger which I now consider to be my superpowers when dealing with chronic illness on a daily basis.

Do not feel guilty if you couldn’t make it to the gym one day! We live busy lives and it is okay to skip a day if you are not feeling it. Starting small and working your way up is so important. Society tells us we need to be squatting 250 pounds everyday to be stronger, but I do not believe this to be true. Every person has a different routine and tolerance to exercise, so do what works best for you. If you couldn’t get to it today, tomorrow is always a new day for a fresh start. Once you get your routine down, then you too can make exercise your superpower.

Share in the comments below what your favorite exercise routine is and how it benefits you!

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