The Exercise Program That Works for My Endometriosis
Endometriosis is an illness that needs management on an almost daily basis. It can involve different approaches, from surgery to hormonal treatments, to a myriad of pain-relief medications. There are also dietary changes that can be implemented, complementary treatments like acupuncture or deep pelvic massage, and for some of us, there is also exercise.
Exercise and chronic fatigue/pain
I’ve suffered from chronic fatigue for years, so fitness in general has always been something I’ve struggled with. When my endometriosis got really bad, I developed a limp and had to give up a physically demanding job, so exercising was out of the question. To top it all, I’ve never been the kind of person who gets up early to go for a run in the middle of winter, or for a swim at their freezing local pool. Yet, it all changed the minute I got my diagnosis.
When I heard that what I had was chronic, my mind quickly chimed in “But surely, there must be something I can do!”. That voice can be annoying when there really is nothing to be done, like when I forget to put ice cream in the fridge, or when I drop a pizza and it lands on the wrong side. But with endometriosis, it gives me a sense of control, and mostly, because of the happy endorphins released, it gets rid of my anxieties.
Suffice to say, with my bouts of chronic fatigue and painful flare-ups, I can’t exercise every day. Depending on my energy levels, sometimes it’s just once or twice a week.
I do this very, very slowly. Two days ago, I was jogging through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and even 5 year-olds where overtaking me. I mostly run to deal with my anxiety. To me, it works better than meditation, CBD oil, or any pill I can swallow. It took me many practice runs to be able to jog without it hurting. But now, it is something that brings me a lot of joy. It also has mild pain relief properties.
I have been doing different kinds of Yoga for almost 6 years. Yin Yoga is the type in which you hold the poses (asanas) for a long while. It’s slow but it can be very intense. I especially like to do this one in the summer. Vinyasa or Flow Yoga is the kind that requires more movement, and it is great when my energy levels are up. It also gives me a healthy appetite when nausea trips me up.
Walking long distances
If you are lucky to have the great outdoors close to you, going on hikes can be incredibly energizing and calming. It’s a fantastic form of low impact exercise, easy to do by yourself or with friends, even more fun if you’re into dogs.
Exercising for mental health
Exercising with an illness like endometriosis requires listening to one’s body. It’s important to manage energy levels, and identify when it’s a good time to be active or when it is better to rest. Frequency, duration, or speed are factors that should not come into the equation. It’s about moving enough that it takes us out of the chronic illness mindset, that it enables us to stretch, feel good, and forget about being limited by our bodies.
I mostly exercise for my emotional wellbeing. As long as I am careful and not push myself to the limit, my body is going to thank me for this.
Do you make any endo preparations when you know you are attending a BBQ, party, or a day at the beach?