Returning to My Exercise Routine, One Dance Step at a Time

Returning to My Exercise Routine, One Dance Step at a Time
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Since being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2017, I have had a complicated relationship with exercise. I have been quite erratic in my approach to staying active. At times, I’ve followed a strict routine of working out every day, while at other times, doing anything was daunting.

Earlier this year, I was exercising daily and felt great. But in the last few months, I fell out of the habit and found myself nervous about diving back in. 

I hadn’t been feeling my best in the past couple months, which made me anxious about exercising again. This is partly because it felt physically challenging, but also because I was scared to have my fears confirmed that I’m more breathless and can’t do as much as I could earlier this year.

However, I knew this attitude wasn’t helping me. 

I realized that while I might not be able to do every exercise I could do six months ago, it doesn’t mean I should shy away from working out altogether. 

In the last month or so, I felt myself getting weaker and more breathless the less active I was. As the U.K., where I live, entered a second nationwide lockdown in November due to COVID-19, my lifestyle was impacted again. Add to that the fact that it gets darker earlier in the day, thanks to the end of daylight saving time, and I had little energy and more excuses than ever to be sedentary. I couldn’t bring myself to exercise after work in the pitch black, not to mention in the rain!

But as my breathing worsened and my appetite dwindled, I knew I needed to do something. So, I told myself it was OK to start small.

Rather than taking out my gym clothes and launching straight into the things I was doing earlier this year, I took some time at the beginning and end of each day to dance around my kitchen to my favorite upbeat tunes. It felt great to get my body moving, even if I wasn’t doing traditional exercises.

By making this small change, I felt my breathlessness on the stairs decrease, and I’ve had more energy lately. I now feel comfortable incorporating elements of my previous workouts into my new routine, such as using resistance bands and ankle weights.

My attitude toward exercise has changed over the years. Whereas I used to beat myself up if I skipped a workout, now I tell myself that any movement is better than no movement, and I try to do whatever my body will allow on a given day, whether it’s skipping, yoga, walking, or dancing.

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Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.

Ellie is 24 and lives just outside of London. She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2017 at age 22, having just graduated university with an English literature degree. Now she works in comms and PR for an online learning platform. When not dedicating spare time to raising awareness about PH, she’s singing, reading books, and going for walks in the countryside (when not too breathless!). She also, in stereotypically English fashion, drinks a lot of tea — preferably with a slice of cake!
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Ellie is 24 and lives just outside of London. She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2017 at age 22, having just graduated university with an English literature degree. Now she works in comms and PR for an online learning platform. When not dedicating spare time to raising awareness about PH, she’s singing, reading books, and going for walks in the countryside (when not too breathless!). She also, in stereotypically English fashion, drinks a lot of tea — preferably with a slice of cake!
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