Move it or lose it

As a non-sporty, nose-in-a-book type who likes a weekend sleep in, my fronting up for personal training (PT) every Saturday morning for the past 18 months is nothing short of amazing.

Up until recently, strenuous activity hasn’t been on my list of top 10 fun things to do.

As a child with rheumatoid arthritis, my doctor recommended I didn’t play sport for fear I’d hurt myself or break a bone, causing irreparable damage.

She didn’t get much argument from me because I figured there was no need to aggravate Arthur by doing something I could avoid.

Anyway, I got enough exercise chasing my two younger brothers around the yard or riding my bike around the neighbourhood.

As a young adult, my physiotherapist encouraged me to add morning ‘warm up’ exercises and swimming to my routine of biking and walking to maintain my range of upper body movement.

“Move it or lose it,” he said.

To this day, if I haven’t done my morning warm up after a hot shower, Arthur feels ‘scratchy’.

But over the years, I lost my motivation for water-based activities such as swimming or aqua aerobics.

The excuses are many: I can’t swim very well, walking barefoot near the pool hurts my feet, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I don’t have the right togs…

As a result of not ‘moving it’, I began to ‘lose it’.

My right shoulder became painful to move and was hard to lift above my head, and both my shoulders rolled forward in a permanent slouch.

I became embarrassed to wear strappy sundresses because my shoulder blades protruded.

Eventually, I went in for joint replacement surgery but the surgeon changed his mind on the operating table, telling me afterwards my shoulder was too damaged.

It was only when lamenting my fate to my rheumatologist that he said, “You know you can rebuild muscle. That will help your movement and reduce your soreness.”

So I consulted a physiotherapist who specialises in exercise rehabilitation.

He designed a program for me, combining Pilates and PT, encouraging me to listen to my body, to stop exercising if hurting and rest if needed.

Gradually, I’ve boosted my general strength and flexibility, my posture has improved noticeably and my shoulder is less painful.

And that’s why I’m a stickler for my Saturday morning PT.