Simple tips for brain injury … exercise Part 1 of 2

19 Apr

Are you struggling to get on track to feeling your best?  What is your best? Are you interested in becoming your healthiest and prefer avoiding the gym?  Are you someone who does best with structured exercise and need the gym?  Activity and exercise is what you need and what will work for you.  If it’s not something you enjoy, you won’t stick with you.  Now is the time to get started! When do you want to begin feeling better?  Hopefully, the answer is today!

Don’t expect to begin exercising an hour a day on Monday!  By Wednesday you will be exhausted and tired of your new program.  Build up any activity on very small increments.

Am I walking Lucy, or is she walking me?

Am I walking Lucy, or is she walking me? (Photo credit: keeganmullaney)

Keep in mind you don’t need to join a gym to start an exercise program.  Try to do any combination of exercises beginning with just 5 minutes a day and working up to a goal of at least 30 minutes every day.  This goal is dependent on the individual and their own life circumstances and medical situation.  What is ideal for the majority is not necessarily the ideal for many with health related issues.   Remember it is only ideal!

There are many ways to shape up and feel your best.  Take a daily walkUse stairs instead of elevator.    In your home walk up and down the stairs several times periodically throughout the day.  Park in the back of a parking lot on your good days.

Don’t beat up on yourself if you can’t workout one day.  Working out is part of feeling your best.  There are different levels of work outs.  Don’t start exercising with the idea of it being a chore.  That’s a negative thought!  Make it fun!  Do something you enjoy!  For example:  Take a walk and see if you can point out 10 different things you didn’t notice the previous day.

Set short-term and long-term goals.  For example:  Short-term goal:  1st week 5 min. exercise  2nd week 10 min. exercise  3rd week 15 min. exercise.  Long-term goal example:  25-40 minutes exercise 5 days a week.

Document things in your life that seem to change or how you feel better.  Are you sleeping better one day a week?  Two days a week?  Three days a week? How does this improve in 30 days?

Tools for Success

Tools for Success (Photo credit: angelamaphone)

Our bodies are made to move!  Those with paralysis must have passive range-of-motion in extremities to prevent the limbs from contracting and freezing in place.   Water exercise is the best exercise for many neurological and chronic medical conditions and physical injuries.  Never enter water alone, and you must always have floatation devices available.  Safety is the key to all exercise.  

Journal your exercise program.  Notice the changes in your health over a 30 day period.  Start out slow.  When you feel ready or reach your goal add another activity that will improve your well-being.

If you would like to purchase exercise equipment there are many on the market.  I will suggest some inexpensive exercise equipment.  These include fitness balls that help with core exercises, flexibility and balance.  DVDs and/or apps a variety of exercises or dance that you can do in your own home.  This helps conserve energy and is cost effective.  You can save the expense of gasoline and transportation.

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart (Photo credit: Kathy Cassidy)

Simple equipment such as a jump ropes are excellent if you tolerate cardiovascular exercise.  Dumbbells of variable weights or weights with velcro to attach around extremities

You most likely are working out and haven’t considered it as such!  Take a personal inventory of your activities.  Mobility is limited in many chronic diseases and injuries, but you may already be working out.  Be kind to yourself and reward yourself for all the little tasks you accomplish.  Every little bit helps … it’s helps you out to feeling better!  Take one step at a time.

Here are a few suggestions that everyone does in some way or another.  Begin your exercise journal with the things you are already doing.  By doing this, it’s impossible to fail!  You are already a success!  Just begin your journal by one activity, even if it’s as simple as brushing your teeth.  Again, there are so many levels of activity.

Start where you are at today.  Not the ideal of an hour workout unless that is your current exercise regimen.  Always keep in mind that you will want to increase your activity a little.  Only you can do it!  Exercise and activity is under your control.  If you need assistance because of limitations set out your goals and make sure they are obtainable.

Regardless, exercise will make everyone feel better!  If it’s meditating, tai-chi, dance, yoga, pilates, deep breathing … it all leads to a better and healthier you!

Get out the notebook and begin journaling your exercise program!  Commit to health.  Commit to yourself.

What have you found works best for you?  What do you enjoy doing that doesn’t seem like a chore?

**********All material presented on Brain Injury Self Rehabilitation (BISR) is copyright and cannot be, copied, reproduced, or distributed in any way without the express, written consent of Edith E. Flickinger, BSN RN. 



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2 responses to “Simple tips for brain injury … exercise Part 1 of 2

  1. wendy

    April 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I really want to improve my stamina and lose some of the weight I’ve gained, but when I raise my heart rate my head kills me! I’ve been looking for a Personal Trainer who will help people with disabilities. Not only to I have the head thing to worry about, but I have a bum hip.
    When I try to exercise on my own I automatically do what I used to do, and can’t understand why I can’t do it. Then I re-evaluate and try to lessen the intensity, do a more gentle routine, but still it’s not working. I have done well in water during Physical Therapy. I wasn’t as wonky headed then, but there is a lot of safety taking place there. Too bad it’s so far and I can’t drive….not being able to drive really changes your life.

    Thanks for bringing this up, as soon as I get these daily migraines under control I’m going to try something…..something. And if it doesn’t work, I’l try something else.

    always stay safe.


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