Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fitness Hurdles + Positive Actions to Take

As part of the 100 Days to a Better Me challenge, I'm part of a supportive and encouraging group of women called Strong.Fit.Fab.

Every week there is a question to think about. This week, the question is: What are your biggest hurdles in health and fitness? What are your excuses?

Here are my hurdles:

1. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). DDD is when the intervertebral disc of the spine degenerates. While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain.

Back in November 2007, I was experiencing quite a bit of pain in my lower back. I couldn't figure out why I was having so much trouble after doing things that had come easily (e.g., vacuuming, standing for long periods of time, driving for more than an hour).

So, I had an MRI done and it showed that two "cushions" (or gel-filled discs that act like shock absorbers) between three vertebrae in my lower back are literally gone. There is nothing there. In addition, two more discs on top of and below the vertebrae were showing signs of degeneration as well. Needless to say,  it's painful.

I also have arthritis of the lumbar spine which causes stiffness and pain in my low back. Often my back is especially stiff in the early morning after getting out of bed. However, with stretching and movement throughout the day, it can loosen up a bit. That being said, if I do prolonged or strenuous activity, I can be guaranteed an uncomfortable level of pain.

Challenge: Find exercise and activities that don't cause additional pain; and help keep my lower back mobile and flexible.

Recommendations: I have heard of many things that can be good for people who have DDD including: yoga, stretching exercises, swimming in a warm-water pool, water therapy, physical therapy, massage, time in an infra-red sauna, inversion therapy, decompression therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and qigong. Of course, medications also are recommended to help with pain and inflammation.

Swimming Pool
The pool at a hotel in Boston where
Sophia, Olivia, and I stayed.
Wouldn't this be nice to have in the backyard
for year-round use?
(Taken on September 10, 2011.)

Realistic Course of Action: Doing yoga and stretching exercises would be affordable (since I can check out videos from the library) and something I could do at home. I visit the chiropractor and take medications as needed.

The rest of the recommendations would be wonderful to do. However, financial limitations and distance from where they are offered are barriers at this time.

2. Weather (especially high heat and humidity) and Asthma. Higher levels of humidity cause higher levels of asthma-inducing agents. According to an article on high humidity and asthma, "When humidity levels go above 50%, the number of dust mites in the air increases.

Morning Medicine
Some of my medicine and inhaler.
The clear vial is albuterol for the nebulizer
if I am having a lot of trouble breathing.
(Taken on January 27, 2012.)

"Furthermore, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology found that high levels of humidity also tend to promote the growth of fungus and molds. Asthmatics' symptoms are bothered and heightened by the presence of these two agents."

When exercising or even doing chores outside, I need to be careful if there's high heat and/or humidity. Stek.org described why, "Very often extreme humidity and heat tend to make asthma worse and trigger the asthma attacks. This is because heat tends to increase the body temperature of the individual and also the metabolic rate, which results in the body using more oxygen. The need for the additional oxygen tends to result in deeper or faster breathing, which is a problem for asthmatics."

Dogs on a Walk
Walking the Dogs at William O'Brien State Park.
(Taken on April 7, 2011.)

Challenge: Find alternatives to exercising outdoors when the weather isn't favorable (e.g., high heat, high humidity, raining, below zero). Create a healthier environment indoors to address water damage issues.

Recommendations: Invest in some videos or check some out from the library that focus on exercising and stretching when going outside isn't an option. Measure the amount of humidity in the air in the home by using a hygrometer. Get dehumidifiers to address the high level of humidity throughout the home.

Realistic Course of Action: During the past 1 1/2 weeks, I bought and started operating three dehumidifiers in the home (basement, first floor, second floor) and three hygrometers. The humidity level was very high throughout the home due to water damage (95% in the basement and 70% on both levels of the home).

By removing the excess moisture from the home, it will make the indoor environment healthier and better to exercise in.

Gutters also will be installed within the next two weeks to get the water moving away from the home rather than affecting the basement and foundation of the home (which ultimately has affected the entire home).

Also, take advantage of the days when the temperature is lower, humidity is lower, and adverse conditions aren't present outdoors.

Going on a Nature Walk
Walking at William O'Brien State Park.
(Taken on December 9, 2011.)

Get back to taking the dogs for a walk in the morning when the weather is the best for me.

1 comment:

Domestically Seasoned said...

talk about moving forward! So proud of you and these steps for a better healthier life . You deserve it.