Getting Started If you’ve been inactive for some time due to your illness, you will have become “deconditioned”. A deconditioned state is one in which even small amounts of activity can trigger pain and fatigue. The key to becoming “conditioned” is to take it gradually. Use sheet in conjuction with your information on pacing and your activity log to monitor reconditioning and prevent relapses.
Consult your doctor Before you change your level of activity or exercise, consult your doctor. If you have been deconditioned for a long time, you may need the assistance of a physiotherapist or fitness coach to recover muscle strength and flexibility.
Start where you are… Just the idea of beginning to exercise can cause people with chronic pain to become apprehensive. Sometimes the word “exercise” is a problem. Your body needs to move. You may not think of all kinds of movement as “exercise”. To begin reconditioning, focus on movement, not exercise.
…And take some baby steps What can you manage right now? While you’re lying in bed or on the couch, can you do some ankle circles? Can you move your feet like you’re pumping a break pedal in a car? Can you do some straight leg lifts? If today is a “good” day, could you manage a short walk? “Short” could be as little as two minutes, if that’s what you can do.
Set some goals You’ve taken some baby steps and made some progress. Now it’s time to think about how you can build on this.
Start low and go slow
The first guideline is to always pace your activity according to what you can manage right now.
Don’t get discouraged if you were able to do more yesterday than you can today. Just keep doing what you can now, and your persistence will cause that to grow over time.
Goals are motivating and help us to measure progress
when they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded. Discuss your goals with your doctor or other health professional to ensure they are within the right range for you.
Monitor your response
Learning to read your body’s signals is a key element of pacing. It helps you to determine your “just right” activity level is on any given day. Did that walk add to or subtract from your Energy Bank account? How is your pain level? What about your other symptoms?
Use your activity log to gauge your response and find your sweet spot. Remember that physical activity is not the only factor determining your energy account balance. Brain-based activities such as thinking, feeling and sensing will draw on your account, as will stress and social activities. Even things that are fun will have an impact, and can change your activity tolerance from day to day.