MS, Exercise and Energy by Sarah Condon

“Energy creates energy”, is something my mum has always said.  I never realised how true this was until I was diagnosed with MS and had none.

Now don’t get me wrong, when fatigue hits me, I’m not jumping out of bed to get some exercise done. Far from it in fact, but ‘energy creates energy’ as a rule is, in general, a good one to follow.

I had gotten into running just before I was diagnosed and had even taken part in a few 10km races.  I really enjoyed it, I miss it and I often have dreams where I’m running again. I can’t run, my right leg feels like concrete and physically heavy if I try to run. I’m not confident to go walking on my own incase I stumble and trip over myself, something  I have done in the past.  If I do go walking, I certainly wouldn’t be walking quick enough to build up a sweat. So, what exercise could I do where I felt safe but still managed to build up a sweat and keep fit at the same time? 

Enter my spinning class - words I never thought would be uttered by me, never mind partake in. Even when I was in the whole of my health, I had done one class and swore blind I would never do it again. However, one very early morning I found myself mounting an exercise bike surrounded by many others. To say I was self conscious was an understatement but luckily it took place in a darkened room with blaring loud music. I was told to take it easy at first and gradually build myself up slowly. At first it was not plain sailing by any means. In one particular class while cycling standing up mid session, I got that ‘uh oh’ feeling and before I could react, my legs went to jelly and completely gave way. I could feel myself falling. I didn’t however fall off the bike because I was strapped in, so I just fell through the bike dangling by my feet from the pedals.

Thankfully I don’t get embarrassed, it is what it is. I actually felt more for the people around me as they didn’t know how to react! They just kept going as the poor instructor tried to conduct the class while attempting to loosen my feet off the pedals. You have to find the humour in everything. It didn’t deter me, so I got back on the bike and as the classes and week progressed I could feel the strength in my legs build and I felt wonderful for it. I really began to notice a difference in my walking in general, my legs were less tired and my muscles were stronger so taking the stairs and walking uphill began to feel easier. Not only was I stronger, I felt great in myself for having the discipline to get up extra early to do a 7am class. Again, don’t get me wrong, I could easily find myself back in bed by 9am fast asleep some days but it was in the knowledge that I had done my exercise which I knew could only benefit me.

Everything was going great but then Covid hit and everything closed. In the beginning I kept up some walking and even did a few weights but as the lockdowns continued the exercise went by the waste side. I could really feel it, I was more out of puff, the stairs became harder and the walks became shorter. Energy creates energy.

Thankfully I have now rejoined my spinning class and slowly but surely, I’m building myself up once again. I’ve been here before so I know what I’ll get from it once I persist; I’ll get stronger and have a lot more energy. It might be hard sometimes but it’s worth it.

 

To learn more about MS and exercise, or to find a an exercise class in your area visit:

www.ms-society.ie/exercise-and-physical-activity

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