🏋🏽‍♀️How to Maintain Fitness Despite Health Challenges


Many people deal with chronic health conditions, busy lifestyles, fatigue, pain, or injury.

This post shares what I have learned from having all of the above, including the syndrome I suffer from called Ehlers Danlos, but I made it applicable to so many more people.

Here are some of the solutions I have found to help overcome the biggest challenges to being fit!

This post may contain carefully selected affiliate links including Amazon Associates, that I may earn small amounts from. See the bottom of this page for more details.

1. Challenge: ADHD and brain fog add extra difficulty with motivation and sticking to plans.

Solution: I have ingrained exercise as a habit I do first thing every morning before I eat or do anything else, to avoid distractions and excuses. Otherwise it would get put off indefinitely for the whole day.

I know it’s easy to feel you are too busy/ have too many things to do, but this should be a priority for your physical and mental health.

My morning exercises start outside in the sunlight because that is supposed to help energy levels for the entire day. The UV rays aren’t strong enough to burn or cause skin aging effects in the morning hours, so I don’t wear sunscreen, a hat, or sunglasses.

2. Challenge: Chronic fatigue and severe sleep issues make mustering the energy to exercise very hard.

Solution: I have a “something is better than nothing” mindset. Often, if you just have a 10 minute goal, you’ll end up doing more than that. But if you only will work out if it’s an intense hour, you’re likely to skip it for a time when you feel more energetic, which may never happen.

The first thing in the morning tip mentioned in #1 helps with this too, because if I were to give myself the choice each day whether or not to, it would always be no. Having it as part of my routine habits pushes me to do it even though I don’t feel like it.

Here is my post with unique natural sleep tips.

3. Challenge: Chronic pain.

In addition to the pain of Ehlers Danlos, I have irreparable neck and back issues from a childhood injury, that causes me constant pain.

Solution: I find some way to work within the boundaries that my body sets. So if my knees hurt one day, I can do an upper body workout instead.

Stretching and massage are also tremendously beneficial for muscles. I use this tool to help work out knots and trigger points in my neck and back. Amazon Associates link for the Body Back Buddy: https://amzn.to/3KA0Lgo

4. Challenge: Feeling faint or fainting easily.

Solution: Avoid exercise outside or in non-air conditioned spaces if the temperature is too high.

5. Challenge: Joint instability, clicking, subluxations, or even dislocations.

You know how some people can crack /pop their knuckles loudly? Well, many of my joints (especially knees and hips) do that, fairly often and it isn’t pleasant. I also have cartilage degeneration in my knees and neck.

Solution: Stick to low impact exercises, and avoid things like running or repetitive jumping and landing on hard surfaces. I also avoid exercise that is based in a kneeling position, to avoid stress on my knees.

I use occlusion/ blood flow restriction bands (note that the ones I have aren’t available anymore. I tried other brands that had a strong toxic smell, so these might too.) I didn’t explain in my fitness tips video, but there is research showing that when you wear these, it can help build muscle with lower weight resistance, so you can avoid using heavy weights that may stain your joints.

Exercise is very beneficial and can help manage symptoms of health issues like Ehlers Danlos (EDS) when done correctly. Functional strength training is excellent as it helps our muscles do the work our joints can’t.

The Muldowney protocol is a one place to start. For cardio, if you have POTS, you’ll need to be careful not to overdo it and stay within certain zones. The Levine protocol has great guidelines for this.

The key with any exercise is to never overdo it, never hyperextend, and give yourself breaks to recover. Watch your joints throughout movements and make sure you’re keeping within a safe range.

Another key is to train in reverse. Instead of starting with the big compound movements, focus on the small stabilising muscles around the joints and build up to normal movements.

The most important thing for people with EDS (especially hEDS) is to strengthen the internal stabilizers, which are small muscles in charge of stabilising joints that are often not worked out as people focus on building muscle or working out the bigger muscle groups and without the stability that’s how injuries happen. Strengthening those can be done with a series of balance exercises i.e. standing on one leg, progressing to balancing board, walking as though you are walking on a rope etc. and then can work out the bigger muscles.

Strength training is amazing for managing symptoms. And managing weight is super important for EDS management also.

Here are low cost Silicone resistance bands that take up very little space, and you can use in your room. Amazon associates link: https://amzn.to/3CO3YEK

Check out my post about fitness and eating tips.

6. Challenge: You really are incapacitated or truly unable to exercise for a time.

Solution: A healthy diet is even more paramount. This is already true if you have chronic health conditions or injuries.

Also as mentioned in #2, if you are unable to move certain parts of your body, such as your knees or legs, you can still use your arms. Even just clapping is something. Or stretching or massage is so good for your muscles and fascia.

Sometimes, even if you aren’t allowed to exercise, walking is allowed and encouraged.

Focus on recovery and slowly increasing your mobility.

To help ensure you are getting adequate nutrients, here is my post about supplements that have lower levels of heavy metals. I use Needed brand.

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