Deconditioning and a Lack of Motivation to Exercise
Last updated: August 2021
Deconditioning. I’ve talked about this before, wondering if physical decline is attributed to our multiple sclerosis or if it comes from being inactive. Aging is also often blamed for our deconditioning. Blaming the golden years for our inactivity may be somewhat legit, but it also can be an easy answer that doesn’t paint the entire story. MS also gets the blame; sometimes it’s true but certainly not always. I can speak as the expert on both because of my age and my slow decline with MS.
Staying active is more important now than ever
At no time is this question about deconditioning more important to revisit than now. Unlike being cooped up indoors for a few days during bouts of rain or other bad weather (think winter and snowstorms!), the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown doesn’t appear to have an end in the immediate future. As I sit inside my home, I have few excuses for being inactive. I have stairs I can climb. I have sufficient room to walk in circles from my kitchen to my living room and back. I even have a stationary bike to climb on; I have hand weights and stretch bands, too. Yet I sit, giving my muscles a free pass from working out day after day, and I honestly must admit I feel the pace of muscle de-conditioning accelerating.
Exercise more than our brains
We can talk about exercising the brain as a muscle and keeping it in shape. Memory is better if we exercise it often. But brain muscle is not an equal substitute for physical muscle, and we have to give both a workout to keep them in shape.
The brain is a muscle, and I'm a kind of body-builder. - Karl Lagerfeld
Sitting for hours with limited movement
As the days of this self-enforced quarantine pass, I recognize that my limited movement is even less. I sit for hours on end watching movies, check on my social media accounts, and talk with friends via telephone or Zoom. Sure, I could get up and walk, but where am I walking to? I’m already going around and around in my head. I’ve seen athletes train by climbing stairs and although my home has them, my navigating stairs is not pretty and is truthfully downright hazardous. So there will be no sprints up and down.
What motivates you to get moving?
I do pump my feet while sitting and even do a few arm lifts to keep my joints limber. But I’m not doing enough of anything to prevent the deconditioning to continue to drag me down that dark hole. I recognize the problem, but I have no solution. What creative ways are you getting movement in your days of confinement? I would really like to be inspired and motivated by you!
What does advocacy mean to you as someone living with multiple sclerosis? Please select all that apply: