Exercise Therapy

January 2022

Exercise is MY Therapy

Some people choose medicine, food, drugs, alcohol, or other vices. I choose exercise!

I choose to exercise and maintain physical fitness because it helps me to cope and function more effectively in my daily life. I’m a better wife, mother, therapist, instructor, caregiver, volunteer, and overall person because I’m physically active. If I’m ever feeling a little off, something as simple as standing up to stretch, walking up a flight of stairs, or turning on music to dance is sometimes all I need to get out of a funk.

Working as an Occupational Therapist in an acute care hospital can be stressful, and physically and mentally taxing. This has been especially true during these past couple of years due to our covid crisis. In this setting, we typically see people at their worst: very soon after surgery, after transfer from the emergency room, and during their time in the ICU. However, this work also comes with great reward and with each patient encounter, I have the opportunity to encourage movement, educate on the healing benefits of exercise, and help people to regain their ability to participate in life. Because I wholeheartedly believe in the power of movement and exercise, I can convey this to others, and hope that it carries forward upon their release from the hospital.

On a separate note, I will tell you that I do enjoy food - many different types of food - and I LOVE sweets! I am confident that my lifelong commitment to being active has helped me to maintain a decent weight, regardless of what I choose to eat. It’s likely that you’ve heard that “You can’t out exercise a bad diet.” This is definitely true, and obviously I agree that no one should consistently indulge in a “bad” diet. It is important, and necessary, to develop a healthy relationship with food and to find a balance that works for you. Does my weight fluctuate at times? Sure it does. Do I stress over it? Nope! Do I use exercise as a modality to get back on track when I need to? You bet!

During my pregnancies, I never gained much weight. This wasn’t intentional, but it's how my body processed pregnancy. I had daily milkshakes, remained active, and continued teaching fitness classes up until the very end of each pregnancy. My children and I are better off for it.

At age 40, I can still run races against all 3 of my children and WIN! I do let them win at times, but ultimately, they’re going to have to earn their victories, just like I did when I was determined to win races against my older brother. He still can’t beat me now! 🏃🏾‍♀️😁

Exercise not only benefits my physical health, but also my mental health. It helps to keep my systems balanced and it helps me to be resilient. Over time, I’ve come to realize that exercise is a necessary part of my life. It can promote healing and wellness, it can be varied, it can be shared with others in meaningful ways, and it’s readily available. It’s my respite.