A few years ago, I began to believe chronic pain would follow me for the rest of my life. My neck and right shoulder hurt all of the time. I could hardly bear to rest my right elbow on the arm of my desk chair. It was almost impossible for me to be seated and talk to someone who was standing. No doubt about it, I was getting creaky and feeling old.
Having recently undergone knee surgery, I decided to pursue non-surgical options, and began a journey to health. I am not against surgery. And, I am certainly not a doctor or other medical expert. But I do hope my story helps others who are simply freezing up from inactivity. That indeed was my problem, and now I can spot it in people of all ages.
Mild exercise started with physical therapy for my neck. Simple, slow movement that used my joints in ways they were designed to work – but in ways that I had not used them for years. That began to bear fruit after several weeks, and I started to enjoy the feeling that movement brings.
After a year, and spotty trips to the gym, I made an important decision. Thanks to my husband’s support and encouragement, in 2009 I hired a personal trainer. And that has made all the difference. I feel younger, move faster, and am able to lift more weight than had been possible for decades.
I work with my personal trainer once a week, but hit the gym two additional times a week. We work on strength, agility, endurance and balance. Building my leg muscles has helped the pain in my knees. I also do lots of walking, initially, using a treadmill when I could not go outside. Once we got a 65-pound dog, there were no excuses. I walk him rain or shine. That pup has changed my attitude, hopefully forever.
Yes, I go through busy periods where I don’t work out quite as often, but I always love getting back to the gym. Or, I should say, I love that surge of mental clarity about ten or fifteen minutes into the workout. It took me almost a year to look forward to working out. Now, I never want to go back to a sedentary lifestyle! It is very handy to be strong, and it seems that I am less susceptible to illness.
Isn’t it ironic that desk work leads to so many physical problems? People used to seek office work in order to protect their bodies from injury. Unfortunately, desk work can be hard on the body, too.
Years spent on college campuses with our kids, along with our college-town life, have shown me too many young adults and teens with hunched backs and curved necks. Excessive computer and cell phone usage needs to be offset by physical activity to result in good posture. If not, pain will come.
Of course, there are physical problems that cannot be solved by exercise. In that case, we must learn to manage them as best we can. However, many people can solve or improve their situation – sometimes in unexpected ways.
Simply becoming aware of our posture can make a difference. As my mom used to tell me, “Straighten up and put those shoulders back!”
I’m heading off to the gym. What will you do today to strengthen your body?
Until we meet again,
The Entrepreneur’s Friend
The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC. Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton. Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.