'Just Move' Isn't Enough

There are only a few more sessions of water exercise for my local MS group until we take a break until the fall. We will be out of the pool for six weeks, which can be a long time when you are used to doing organized activities. This is the fourth year for the program and I can just about bet that the same will happen that has happened the past three years – we will go our separate ways and completely forget about any form of exercise until we meet up again in September.

Making a commitment

Many of us, especially me, need that class time obligation to get up and get moving. Each week I grudgingly attend, knowing I have made that commitment to myself and others and I almost always feel better after I have done an hour in the water. There isn’t much we do in the water that can’t be done on dry land – we are just lacking the buoyancy and the extra cushioning should we fall.

It's okay to start small

Many of the big headlines lately about living with MS have to do with physical activity – the message over and over is exercise is good for the body and the brain, and we should do as much as we can. It’s ok to start small and build up to longer stretches of exercises but the key here is we have to start. I’ve had personal trainers through a special program and I faithfully attended those sessions and did the workouts – it was a commitment/obligation much like the aquatics classes. If someone else is counting on me to attend, I will go.

Why is it so hard to get motivated?

So why is it so hard to count on myself and get motivated to exercise on my own? It’s not the lack of equipment – I have everything from hand weights to a treadmill, elliptical machine, and stationary bike. All of those were purchased for my husband’s use – and he was good about it for many years but now the equipment sits idle. Fortunately, it is in my basement and I don’t have to look at it regularly and feel guilt, but I still know it is there if I would want to use it.

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Designing mini-workouts in my head

I certainly know all the exercises that I can/should do, after all these years of being in the gym for classes. I often design mini-workouts in my mind, thinking things like “just spend ten minutes doing weight lifting” (small hand ones, of course) while you are watching TV and my flabby arms will be fit and toned in no time. The problem is I rarely watch TV, or at least that’s my excuse. Then today I thought if I set an alarm on my phone and it reminded me to stop typing on the computer and lift weights for ten minutes, that would be a good start, but I haven’t done so, yet. I can’t use not knowing how to set an alarm as the excuse.

Just walking can make a difference

A few years ago, I lost significant weight by walking – yes, just walking and some minor dietary changes. I began with short distances pacing in front of my house and built up to longer stretches. And then something happened and I stopped – blame it on the wet weather, the hot weather, winter weather - anything you want to pick that would keep me indoors. And then the MS made walking a challenge – and now when I walk it is more like a wobble and can’t get up a very beneficial pace. I know it is good for me, but doing it is a different thing.

There are research studies being done at the Cleveland Clinic on how to motivate those of us with MS to exercise on our own – I was accepted into the study and then there was a conflict with their online group sessions time – ironically, they were being held at the same time as my aquatics program. A year later, I am still waiting for them to start another group, because I sure could use it.

What tactics do you use to get moving?

If you have a secret tactic to get yourself up and moving, I sure would love to hear it, because I’m entering that extended period with no commitment and no motivation. What’s gets you moving?

Wishing you well,


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