You Can Always Do Something.

I thought I’d talk a bit about how my exercise has changed over the past few months to accommodate  my aging? injury prone? body. The main point I want to make is that you can (and SHOULD) always do something.

Over the years I have always been very inspired by stories of people with severe physical  limitations and how they found a way to exercise. SO INSPIRED. There was just never really any justification for NOT exercising. Not even morbid obesity. If a person without legs could walk, how could I possibly excuse myself?

That said, it has been a little frustrating challenging to find new ways to exercise as various body parts break down. First there was the back. I went to P.T. and was careful to not do exercises that would exacerbate the injury that was already there. I could still pretty much do a full range of strength exercises, and of course I continued walking and occasionally running. I added in some swimming, which I really enjoyed. Last summer I made a goal to swim 2.4 miles and I did it! I’m thinking that this year I will try to do that at least 3 times during the swimming season.

And then the decrepit knees came along. That has been very frustrating, since walking fairly long distances (3-5 miles) was my norm. And that just wasn’t pleasant any more. When I finally went to the doctor and he gave me permission–in fact, encouraged-me to stop doing weight bearing exercise, it was a relief. I had already started increasing my swim time before I saw him, and he was an avid cycler, so he encouraged me to do some biking. He mentioned the word aerobic in that conversation (which included some talk about losing weight.) Oh, aerobic. I kinda had forgotten about that. I don’t like to sweat… So I started getting on the bike at the gym. In conjunction with watching The Food Network, I really enjoy my time on the bike. I do intervals and try to challenge myself.

At the same time, I went to P.T. for my knees, and that was the end of the heavy weight training for my lower body. Instead, I do multiple reps (like 60-100) of much lower weights. Its still a pretty good challenge. If I keep up with the P.T. exercises, walking is now fairly comfortable for shorter distances. I was happy to keep doing my regular heavy lifting for my upper body (remember my goal to do a 100 pound bench press?)

Well, yeah. THEN something happened to my elbow/arm. I could still use it to push, but I couldn’t even reach to pick up a glass. No strength at all, and it hurt like the dickens. My brother said its probably tendonitis. I consulted the internets and they said rest for 5-6 weeks was the cure. So there went my upper body strength training. I just stopped cold turkey. But you know what I started doing recently? I don’t know what made me think of this, except I probably just needed to move a bit–I started doing those arm circles that they made us do in jr. high gym class! Those things are pretty hard to do!

Oh, and the latest thing I am trying (and loving) is sprints. So far it seems like its okay on my knees and my back. I read this blog about running, which was pretty entertaining, and she quoted Mark Sisson, who mentioned having debilitating osteoarthritis at age 28. Well if he could run sprints, I guess I could.

The idea of these 30 second sprints does remind me of Tabata intervals. Which is something else I could add back in. And core exercises. I definitely could add some of those. Oh, and stretching. Maybe some yoga? Pilates? Definitely, you can always do something.

14 thoughts on “You Can Always Do Something.

  1. amen.
    when my back was really bad and I couldnt do any cardio for close to six months it was SOOO TEMPTING TO JUST QUIT.
    but I found my “something” and I did it.

  2. Bravo , Debbie. I’m so glad you are finding things you can do to move despite the barriers. Tough stuff. I love the success stories on Marks Daily Apple. Those stories motivate me so much. Onward!

  3. I love that you keep looking for ways to make exercise work for you, instead of A) doing what hurts and being miserable; or B) stopping completely – you make it sound so reasonable to change things up. Logical. I love this – you are a very! good! example! to me (and lots of others, I’ll bet) as to why I can’t let (insert pain-of-the-moment here) stop me from moving.

  4. I, too, am an aging baby boomer. I suffered with bad knees for 16 years and over the past 1 1/2 years had both of them replaced. I discovered recumbents and bought a recumbent trike. I love, love, love my recumbent. I did have a serious wreck on it almost 2 years ago which involved a large dog. I broke my pelvis, cracked a hip and broke my thumb(requiring surgery). It is ver hilly where I live and have not gotten back to my normal route since my rotator cuff surgery. I even hobbled out with a walker after my accident to ride my trike. I bought a Wii for indoors, but have not used it in awhile. I live in a very small town and do not have a fitness center nearby , but love to swim. I gained a lot of weight during all my recuperation, but finally got back on the horse( weight watchers online) this weekend. Your blog is one of my strategies.

    • Wow, that is quite a story. I hope that you get a LONG break from any further injuries. Has replacing your knees made a positive difference for you?

      Its too bad you can’t swim–that is such a great time. Sometimes I don’t think I’m getting a lot of ‘exercise benefit’ from it. But for that period of time, all of me feels wonderful and invincible.

      Stick around. I hope me and my friends can be a support system for you!

  5. Injuries and physical limitations can be so frustrating when trying to find exercise that you enjoy and makes you feel good, I love your positive attitude though, keep trying to find what works for you!

  6. I think the hardest part is that thin line between realizing one thing is no longer doable and finding something enjoyable to replace it with. I’m in that thin line right now and haven’t yet found the new thing. All I can see is that I can no longer hike the distances I once could and refusing to face that fact is doing me more harm than good. You see to be doing a much better job!!

    • Oh yes, I hear what you are saying. I never LOVED my walking like you did your hiking. But still, there is the lingering (and depressing) thought as I walk–am I NEVER going to be able to walk that far again?

  7. Great post, Debby! My elderly friend Wally (age 88) has experienced a body breakdown lately and has had a tough time dealing with it…until he got a recumbent bike. He can’t walk miles and miles, but he can sit there and pedal. And he does (and does and does). We can almost always find something we CAN do!

  8. There is no point in trying to do an exercise that causes you pain and isn’t enjoyable. Why is it so hard to do, though? I get those thoughts with running. It just doesn’t do me good anymore, so why do I feel like I need to keep trying?

    I second the bike, though. It’s so much easier on my knees, my back, everything. And it gets your heart rate up when you want to. You can do sprints on the bike, too 😀


    If that link works, it is Tracy Anderson with a red background and an arm routine that can be done with light or no weights. Tracy has lots of light or no weight routines that are really good.

    Make sure to keep your shoulders back and down and do not jut chin forward/up, collapsing back of neck.

    My favorite instructor does lots of “arm circle” type moves. We start with 5 lb weights, at some point drop to 2 lbs and usually are down to no weights by end. Sometimes we only use 2 or 3 lbs. sometimes we use no weights at all.

    There are lots of “arm circle” type moves that are highly effective – lifting the tray, turning the door knob, patting up, patting down, patting front, patting back. Squares instead of circles.

  10. Enjoyed this post Debby. The title says it all. When I feel whimpy about exercising since not being comfortable at this weight makes it not so much fun, I have to remind myself there are some people that do not have legs to stand on, so I have no excuse. I need to get busy and use it or I will surely lose it.

  11. Thanks for posting this. It’s a good reminder to myself that I’m ok, I do what I can. My ;latest trainer had me do arm circles to warm up and I do them all the time now. They ARE hard. Doing them with weights in the pool also can be exhausting (but good)

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