Today's discussion with a patient about exercise.
"As a teenager I was playing 3 different sports a week. I was playing sports for school and my coach(es) helped me excel".
Her choice of college major and career made her inactive. She got anxious, depressed and her new lifestyle severely affected her mental health
She got used to her new sedentary lifestyle and enjoyed her evenings sat watching telly.
The reason she came to see me was multiple joint pains for 10 years. She has spent oodles of money on ergonomic chairs, pillows, mattresses & various posture correction gadgets available in the market.
She knew she needs to lose weight (first step towards achieving her goal). Being overweight increased her joint pains and made her life even more sedentary.
So, what was stopping her from exercising? My question to her – “how do you keep active/fit?”
She said she is not motivated. The next sentence, raised my eyebrows, "I do not understand how people go to gym for pleasure"
I am one of those people who feel guilty for missing a workout. This feeling- she described of no motivation to exercise was alien to me.
I wanted to know what she did for recreational purposes, everything she described were sedentary activities.
I like to make relatable conversations and use examples to motivate my patients however this scenario was a difficult one for me.
We discussed about why body needs to move and the importance of exercise and weight loss in managing persistent pains.
She nodded to everything I advised her, and she described her emotions very clearly, I liked her honesty. We discussed that exercise does not necessarily mean going to the gym. Any form of movement that increases your heart rate which in turn releases feel good hormones called endorphins, ultimately improves your physical and mental health.
Research suggests walking is a good form of exercise. On discussion, she said going for a walk with her friends is something she liked to do before lockdown. Conversation is a good distraction for her to exercise. She needs someone with her to push her ,else her inertia prevents her from moving.
Patiently listening to her, exploring her likes and dislikes - we arrived at a form of activity she would like to do- to her achieve weight loss goal. I suggested once things get a bit normal, she can join a walking group where different people meet and go for a walk together. There are plenty of options available in the community that I suggested she could join. Also understanding that she only needed someone to push her – led me to sending her for an exercise referral scheme available in the community.
Everybody is different and we all need something or someone to push us towards our goals. For her it was someone else rather than self-motivation.
If you are struggling too, it might be useful to discuss with your healthcare professional and explore options available- look for local community classes.
https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/Fitness-activities-and-classes/LocationSearch/671 , Input your postcode and you can find something you might like.
Enjoy your exercises, do them as you please. If you miss a day, do not be hard on yourself. Do something different if you like mixing things up. Exercise helps you develop a balanced & healthy mind and body. Talk to someone who can guide you to your healthy lifestyle.
Contact me if you have any questions about where to start