Power of exercise
One of the problems of progressive physical diseases is that you can lose the ability to enjoy the power of exercise
MS has stolen those moments
Exercise creates an endorphin rush, that feel good feeling, to a large extent this euphoric feeling is now history. For several years after my diagnosis multiple sclerosis was just a conversation topic. I took exercise every day.
I played badminton every week with friends but I invariably lost. Pulling off the occasional fluke shot, the moment when the hand-eye co-ordination was in synch, it made me feel like a king, and it filled my body with happy hormones. Those exhilarating moments have been stolen. Multiple sclerosis has ensured that these moments are now just a dim and distant memory.
Endorphins reduce the stress of life
I hung up my badminton racket in 1998. Three years later I had to stop training a Tring Mini rugby team in 2001 and then I gave up walking the dogs in 2003. Over the years multiple sclerosis has stolen the opportunities of taking regular exercise. These moments all had one thing in common, I was able to forget about the stress of life. It was at these moments when my body produced endorphins.
Endorphins, known as ‘happy hormones’, make all of us feel instantly calmer, relaxed and banish stress. I missed them and for quite a few years I did not know what was missing from my life.
I have started a regime of exercises
In January 2012 I had to stop work, suddenly I had time in the mornings. Now I have started a regime of exercises, I do them when I get up in the morning. I started this because when I wake up my legs are incredibly stiff. When I get out of bed and stand up I could feel my calf muscles go into a spasm. I could not put my left heel on the ground; I had to force it down onto the ground.
Nothing more than muscle stretches
This is not a good way to start the day, I had to find a way to grease the joints, and get I going. I start each day by doing a series of stretches. Much the same as before strenuous exercise you ought to do muscle stretches. They wake me up, get me going, make me feel that little bit more flexible and they get the blood moving. As a result of these exercises when I stand up my left leg almost behaves normally.
I am not entirely certain that I enjoy the exercises but I do feel guilty if I don’t do them. They certainly make me feel better and I’m finding them easier with time.
If you can, then do
Doing this has made me more enthusiastic about taking exercise. I surprise myself at what I can now do. I can walk into town and back with my rollator, it must be a round trip of about 800 metres. Does not sound very far, rest assured it is. The killer is the last 80 yards, it’s up a slope. To me it is the North Face of the Eiger, OK I exaggerate but do you understand what I mean?
Always try to go that little bit further
If you can, then do – that’s quite a good motto for life. Also always try to go that little bit further. I want more endorphins, they are quite addictive, I guess that’s the power of exercise. Also exercise does make you feel younger, my brother is 68 and he plays badminton every week.
There are many disabled people who do strenuous exercise. Participants in the Paralympics is an example. MS is bad news because as it progresses so your body becomes less capable or uncoordinated in one way or another. I really do miss being able to get up and go, dash to catch the bus, play a game of badminton or just to nip up stairs.