Let’s get PHysical: How I stay active in life with PH

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by BioNews Staff |

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An illustration for November's Community Spotlight on people living with pulmonary hypertension.
A woman and her son wear matching red T-shirts at a roller skating event. Both have on helmets, shoulder and knee pads, and roller skates.

Cindy Moser, left, and her son, Sam Kelly, at a skate-a-thon fundraiser in May 2019. They did this one together. (Photos courtesy of Cindy Moser)

This is Cindy Moser’s story:

I will exercise here, I will exercise there, I will exercise anywhere — even in the hospital! One time, my doctor came in to check on me, and he was surprised to see me stretching and doing balancing exercises. I joked that I may not look like it, but I am an athlete.

After I thought about it, though, I realized I am an athlete. With pulmonary hypertension (PH), I closely monitor my health using a fitness tracker, and I constantly pay attention to how I feel. Proper diet and exercise are essential to keep me running around all day, almost every day.

I feel better if I keep moving, but I do need rest days every few days. Sometimes, they are rest weeks. But I try not to stay still too long. Even when I don’t feel my best, I wiggle my toes and fingers, try to stretch a little, and walk out to the sidewalk and back. If I can, I go to the gym, though sometimes I just lie on the floor and do very little.

A woman is pictured from the shoulders up wearing an olive green shirt and a nasal cannula.

Cindy Moser recovers after a bout of pneumonia in February 2022.

Another activity that sometimes leads to more activity is floating in the pool. If I feel like it, I’ll start moving my legs and arms in the water, and then sometimes I’ll feel good enough to swim a little. I am probably the slowest athlete ever, but I have learned that I’m not competing with anyone except myself — and perhaps PH. I’m trying to catch up on all the time I have lost being sick.

When I’m not keeping up with my hectic life, you can catch me doing some sort of exercise or trying a new sport that I will never be good at. My latest athletic endeavor was to do a 5K. I wanted to enter my local Turkey Trot race. I won’t be able to reach that goal this year, but I’ve been working on completing that distance in a reasonable amount of time.

A woman and her son smile for a selfie. The woman is wearing a black T-shirt and the boy, who is leaning in toward the camera, has his face painted like Iron Man.

Cindy Moser and her son, Sam Kelly, participated in a roller derby in April 2019. Her son was the most valuable blocker that night. Cindy was a nonskating official.

Because I have two speeds, slow and slower, and I’ve never been a runner, I have a lot to learn about how to achieve this goal. Learning about jogging (I use that term very loosely), breathing, and pacing has been a fun challenge.

I’ve discovered that pacing, especially during the resting part of my workout, is most important for me. Finding a balance between pushing myself, slowing down, and allowing my body to recover for the next thing has been difficult. My slow is almost a stop!

But even a little exercise is better than none, so my challenge is to do what you can to get PHysical.

In recognition of Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month in November, the PHCommunity Spotlight campaign features a series of stories highlighting the real-life experiences of people affected by PH, written in their own words. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #PHSpotlight, or read the full series.

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