#StepRepPray is an invitation to meet with God in movement and to pray for others with each step and every rep – always at the pace of grace.
Exercise with chronic illness can be daunting, but with the guidance and supervision of your doctor and/or physical therapist, movement in whatever way is best for you can be life-giving and joy-filled.
The key is to do what you love and to find a style of movement that works with your specific needs.
Small changes can make a big difference.
Start where you are by incorporating movement into everything you do – a few extra steps around the house, a walk around the block, arm circles or shoulder shrugs while sitting in your chair, parking a few extra spaces from the store, an extra trip up and down the stairs.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Emphasis mine.)
Exercise is important for:
- maintaining strength, flexibility and balance
- for boosting energy and mood
- maintaining a healthy weight
- regulating sleep
- helping to manage symptoms
- overall quality of life
What if today you aren’t able to “run with perseverance the race marked out for [you]”?
There is no shame, Friend. None at all.
God knows exactly where you are. If today, you are unable to move or exercise then we invite you to pray as you breathe or lift your voice in song, to thank God as you wiggle your fingers and toes, or even as you wrinkle your nose.
A Place to Begin
TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR OR PHYSICAL THERAPIST about the kind of physical activity that is right for you. Even a small amount of movement can make a big difference.
- Weight control
- Bone and muscle strengthening
- Increased balance and coordination
- Improved mental health and mood
- Prevention of falls and stiffening of muscle
- Improved quality of life
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR:
- How can exercise improve my chronic illness?
- What exercises are safe for me?
- How often and how much should I exercise?
- At what level of intensity?
- What goals are realistic?
- Should I take any special steps to get started?
- What else do I need to know?
- Are there any exercises I shouldn’t be doing?
- Can you recommend a trainer or physical therapist to help me get started?
The answers to these questions can tailor exercise to meet your needs and ability.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Don’t push yourself beyond where you feel comfortable. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it has a long-term positive effect. Your fitness will increase over time at a pace that’s right for you.
START SMALL, EVEN A LITTLE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
No matter what your situation, whether you’re bedridden, homebound or struggling to maintain a normal life, choose gentle exercises to improve the quality of your daily life. Start slow and build a little at a time. For example, a five-minute walk or a few yoga poses every day might help improve your blood flow and quality of sleep. Remember that small is better than none at all.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do or on what others are doing, focus on your own personal accomplishments. Keep a workout diary. Log your abilities at the beginning and update them weekly to measure your progress. When dealing with chronic illness, too often we overlook our progress because it feels like we have such a long way to go. But every step you take is victory.
WORKOUT BUDDY/ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER/JOURNAL
Choose someone to help keep you accountable – a friend, trainer, workout buddy, family member, or even an online health support forum. Knowing someone is there to encourage and cheer you on makes a big difference.
For example: I have a Workout Buddy who lives in Texas. I live in Wisconsin. Each day, we send each other a short Facebook message that says something like, “Morning, Workout Buddy. Today, you stepped on the elliptical and pounded out your three miles in 21 minutes, 30 seconds at Level 5 – a new personal best. Then you spent a few joy-filled hours gardening.”
Her reply will be something like, “You got up early to do boot camp this morning. Good time visiting with friends, lifting weights, and doing the Windcrest Hill three times as you watched the sun rise with fuchsia color. Have a color-filled day, Workout Buddy!”
Simple. Engaging. And a fun way to log activity with an accountability partner.
Or you can keep a Workout Journal noting:
- the date
- the kind of movement or exercise
- the number of steps, reps or minutes
- the intensity, weight and/or level
- the number of calories burned
ADAPT, TAKE A CLASS
Chronic illness doesn’t mean we have to abandon activities we once loved. It might just mean we have to find creative ways to participate in them. For example, some facilities offer Chair Yoga, Chair Bootcamp or Seated Zumba.
Check with local hospitals, clinics or healthcare non-profits and ask about their adaptive fitness classes. An added bonus is that these classes are led by specially trained instructors in safe, supportive environments to meet specific healthcare needs.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
There is no shame, no condemnation. Today is a new day and every little bit makes a big difference. Today, maybe you can take 10 more steps or walk for one more minute or do three more reps.
It’s all about moving at the pace of grace.
A website and online magazine highlighting the connections between the Christian faith and a fitness lifestyle by an energetic network of thinkers, communicators and media developers with a passion to inspire and motivate people not just live life but to be life – very essence and expression of God to others.
To empower individuals with a mental health challenge, along with their loved ones, to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health challenge.
Seeking to inspire, enliven and heal through movement, worship and the Word of God, in order to build up the Body of Christ, nurture the purity of the Bride of Christ and reveal God’s love to the world through Jesus, The Prince of Peace, to whom belongs all dominion, and power and authority on earth as it is in heaven.
Medisafe is mentioned in the chronic illness community as one of the best, easiest-to-use medication tracking apps — especially for those taking multiple medications. The app tracks pill schedules, refill needs and even the best prices. The app is simple and can share information between patients, doctors and pharmacies.
Flaredown was designed by and created for people with chronic illness with the intention of learning to prevent flares. If you check in with the app regularly, it crunches the numbers on your health. That information goes into charts and graphs, which helps you understand how your treatments impact you. While the app includes basic support for any chronic condition, some extra support exists for certain diseases. You can also allow Flaredown to share your data anonymously with chronic illness researchers.
Pain Diary allows patients to chart and score pain as well as record and track other symptoms of the disease such as fatigue and mood swings. It also has a feature where patients can connect with others living with the same chronic illness and swap best practices.
To track and focus more on wellness, try the Google Fit and Apple Health apps. They track blood sugar, calories burned, heart rate and cholesterol, among many other features. Users can place emergency health information on their lock screens, and the apps integrate with many other fitness apps—allowing you to customize your health record.
Dozens of apps exist to help those with dietary restrictions or preferences make and find better eating choices.
Try HealthyOut to search area restaurants by menu.
Check out ShopWell to navigate healthier options while grocery shopping.
To quickly reduce the stress of meal planning, try Mealime. It builds a healthy meal plan and grocery list for you once you answer a few questions. You can customize the plan and shopping list. Recipes are 30-minutes to cook and can be followed inside the app. Community threads provide space for recipe, app or health recommendations. Note: The dietary restriction options are limited and more advanced features are paid-only.
Is specific nutritional information more important than saving time? For a customizable experience, try AllRecipes.
Fooducate helps you keep track of your diet and make healthy choices. Program in how many calories you want to consume a day, add the food choices you make, and the app will work out the nutritional values and tell you how many calories you’ve consumed. It also works with many fitness apps to add in physical activities and calories burned.
Sleep Cycle analyzes the quality and amount of sleep you get each night. By setting the alarm to wake you from you’re lightest sleep, you will greet each day more refreshed.
Just open the SleepBod app and place your phone next to you. The app will track motion and sound throughout the night to help you better understand your sleep quality. You can also set a smart alarm, to wake you up during your lightest stage of sleep within a half-hour window, so you feel less drowsy when you wake up.
A Step Further
Would you like to go a step further?
Consider sending a text, message or even a handwritten note to someone you prayed for during your #StepRepPray time today. If you’d like free notecards, visit our #PenToPaper program.
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