Why do I exercise with Chronic Illness?

With it being the start of the new year, I am sure you are one of many to include 'exercise' in your new years resolutions, or as I prefer, new years intentions. As with any goal, you need to have a strong why. Why do you want to exercise? If you don't fully know what your why is, you are far less likely to reach your goal whatever that may be.

Why should we exercise?

You probably already know how much exercise can help with our general health. It improves our strength and flexibility, both of which is important for us to function. It decreases our risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease and type II diabetes. It improves our mental health and wellbeing. It helps encourage a health weight and can help improve your sleep.

Even for those of us with chronic illnesses and health conditions, research shows exercise is good for us. A Cochrane study (Geneen et al, 2017) found strong evidence that exercise doesn't cause any adverse effects in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. It showed that exercise can lead to a decrease in pain and an increase in physical function, and consequently improve your quality of life.

And yet, when I exercise I don't notice any of these benefits. I am not sure my body even produces those happy post-workout endorphins people rave about. Quite often I feel a lot worse after exercising, pain can be higher, I feel even more fatigued and often adds to my nausea. It can be hard to find the 'why' when you feel this crap after doing something that supposedly help you.

Why I exercise?

Despite it being in my name that I am active, I still have days where I'm like ugh what is the point when this makes me feel horrific. Plus after a long long time I may start to feel myself getting stronger, then I have a setback and have to start all over again. And once you are on setback 101 you start to lose that energy and motivation to restart, again. So I regularly have to come back to, and focus on my why.

So these are my 'whys' in the hope that sharing them helps encouraging you to find yours: