Adding Cardio to Your Routine

It’s getting warmer outside. It’s time to get off the couch and start a new routine. Let’s go. I know it’s hard. I know your body won’t like you for a bit. You can do it. 

My mom used to tell us this old phrase, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”. 

I have restarted my exercise routine over and over again these past few years. I was in the best shape of my life before my accident. Then my body went into shock post-concussion and didn’t know how to handle it again. Oh, I’ve tried –  light weight-lifting, cycling, swimming, one of Jillian Michael’s TV workouts (really bad idea). 

I didn’t want to lose the muscles I had worked so hard to get. I was watching my arms get saggy and my body go lose. It was tough. But when I pushed myself so much that I was walking sideways and struggling to get out of bed, I knew I had to ease off. 

My Occupational Therapist recommended trying to go for a two-minute walk. Yes, you read that correctly. She had a patient that started with walking to the end of his driveway and back. That’s all he could handle. Then as time went on, he was able to make it to the end of the block. Then around the block. Eventually he was able to walk a fair amount. 

With the weather warming up, this is a great time to begin. The heat and humidity are still low enough to not be an issue. Set a goal for yourself. Like I’ve shared before, it’s okay to have a bit of symptoms. Just don’t overdo it. 

Depending on the stage you’re at in recovery, going to the end of your driveway and back is enough. Take your phone or a timer with you, along with a soft hat and sunglasses. If noise is a bother, bring those ear plugs too. Bring along a family member or friend to help you balance or walk straight if needed. 

Set the timer for one minute. Walk away from the house for one minute. Then turn around and walk back home for the other minute. If you’re feeling good, do another two minutes then stop. Go back in the house and consider today’s little venture out a victory. Enjoy. You did it!

You may think that sounds ridiculous and has no health value at all. It might not physically for a while, but it certainly did some things:

1) It got you moving and your heart rate up a bit from rest position

2) It gave you a boost of confidence that you did it

3) It made it feel possible that you can do it again tomorrow

Yes, you’re going to do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day after that. Because it is so quick, it should be something that anyone can do. I know it will feel like a lot of effort to get ready, get your shoes on, and do it, but trust me. It’ll be worth it. 

See how you’re feeling after two weeks. If you feel confident that you can handle two minutes, up it to three. Do that for a week. If you still feel good, up to it four minutes. 

If you start to feel dizzy, a headache, or exhausted at the four-minute mark, stay at three for another week or two. When your body feels confident again with no symptoms, up it another minute. 

The more you give your body time to adjust to the changes, the better long term you’ll be. If you adjust too quickly and push through your symptoms, you’re going to end up back on the couch. Trust me, I know from experience! The “slow and steady win the race” remember? Embrace being the tortoise. You’ll win this race. 

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