Keep on Movin’

Tips to help you get about without necessarily getting out.

Trying to think of ways to stay active despite symptoms that reduce your sense of mobility? There have been times when I’ve felt so lousy that leaving the house seemed nearly impossible. The kinds of exercise I typically enjoy are outdoor activities—softball, bicycling, walking, canoeing, etc. So when I’m feeling crummy it’s hard to imagine enjoyable ways to exercise.

Sports that involve captivating elements like watercraft, hockey gear and rock climbing harnesses can be nearly impossible when you have urgent restroom needs, obviously. But we don’t have to avoid everything. Staying active is an important part of good health for everyone. When it’s hard for us to venture out it can be even more difficult to get the exercise we need. Here are some tips to help you get about without necessarily getting out.

Most of all, try to keep getting out if you can.

  • Even if you’re feeling tied to home, try to at least play or exercise in your yard, to keep close enough to the restroom, medications, and other comforts of home. Walk in loops around your house or yard, do some gardening, play basketball in the driveway, sweep the garage.
  • Plan a walking route around your neighborhood that includes safe stops along the way. Check on using the restrooms of friends and family in the neighborhood. Try streets near businesses and other facilities that have restrooms. Golf courses often have pit stops spread throughout. City parks and community centers might be helpful. Don’t forget to also consider resources like porta-potties at construction sites.
  • If all else fails, you can always try a stranger’s door. I haven’t had to do it yet, but allowing myself permission to consider it takes the edge off my anxiety.

Even at home you can stay active.

  • Choose to take the stairs at work, in your apartment building, or wherever you see them. Better yet, don’t even let it be a choice—commit yourself to it permanently. When passing an elevator you won’t need to think about it, just tell yourself, “I take the stairs.”
  • Walk the long way around. We instinctively take the shortest route as if saving time is all that matters. But when we’re more confined and have time on our hands, why not pick a new priority? Do things in a way that provides exercise rather than efficiency.
  • Acquire an exercise machine. You might be able to rent or borrow one to try it out, and most cities have used equipment dealers to make purchases more affordable.
  • Consider using exercise videos. Yoga, aerobics, salsa dancing.
  • Many new video game systems have a variety of fitness programs. WII, Playstation, Xbox, and others are all capitalizing on this market. I have a friend who lost 25 lbs. with a dancing arcade game hooked up to his PS3. It’s quite a workout.
  • Get some weights or a medicine ball and start a low-impact strength training program. You don’t even need weights—sandbags, milk jugs, paint cans, and lots of other things can double as exercise accessories. Heck, impress your kids and bench press that old 486 computer you have sitting in the garage.

These are just a few starter ideas, of course. The key is to be creative and take notice of all the opportunities right under your nose, and find something that feels comfortable. You don’t even need to purchase equipment or supplies, you can make exercise gear out of just about anything.

And if you need help staying motivated, find a way to make a game out of it. Try to outscore yourself, or keep setting new goals that move you forward. I once started a great bicycling regimen that had one simple rule, to ride just a little farther every day. That’s all it took. I rode out the same country road every day and went a little farther each time before turning back. Sometimes it was to the next driveway or milepost, or sometimes one inch further than yesterday.

In these simple ways, we can still enjoy the benefits of exercise without the hassle or anxiety of venturing far from our safety net. But remember, too, the more you stretch the net the more comfortable it’s likely to be.

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Tags: Tips ('How-Tos') , Toilet Talk

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.