Easing Back Into Exercise After Myasthenia Gravis
Last updated: March 2022
It has been almost 3 years since my diagnosis. This month, I finally made it back to the exercise studio I religiously attended before myasthenia gravis (MG). It was a victorious moment.
Before my diagnosis, I exercised at least twice a week, going to barre and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes. Exercising was a source of stress relief for me and I always felt accomplished after a good workout.
Cancelling gym memberships
I remember canceling my studio memberships as I lay bedridden with MG. I felt defeated and weak. Even a ceramic plate was too heavy for me to lift onto a shelf.
As I started regaining my strength, I wanted to start exercising but felt stuck. I wasn't sure what my body could handle, and I definitely did not want to cause too much stress in my body.
Exploring different forms of exercise
I was recommended yoga and qi gong by various doctors. Yoga focuses more on balance, strength, and stretching, while qi gong focuses on breathing patterns and simple poses to promote a healthy flow of qi (energy). Since yoga made my head spin, I decided to try qi gong.
I found a few videos on YouTube and tried following along. It was interesting learning about the different centers of the body, and how they believed certain poses brought restoration and balance to those centers. The calm and easy movements of qi gong were easy enough to not put too much tension on my body.
Another exercise I was recommended by a friend with MG was "The 4 Minute Workout." You can easily find this workout video by typing it into any search engine. This workout is quick and efficient.
Finding the best workout for me
I started doing "The 4 Minute Workout" once a day and tried to incorporate it as much as I remembered. I liked that it was fast and memorable. I could easily do it in between chores or meetings.
Walking was also a simple and effective exercise that I knew would not be too stressful on my body. It was a little harder to incorporate walking into my daily life being a mom of 2 toddlers. Walking outside was also often dependent on the weather.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I finally returned to my most previously frequented exercise studio this month. This studio hosts HIIT classes. HIIT alternates short periods of intense anaerobic exercises (around 45-seconds) with less-intense recovery periods (around 15 seconds).
Taking it safe and slow
Before my class, I made sure to message the coach who would be teaching. I let him know about my diagnosis and situation, and he prepared to provide alternative workouts for me.
While others were doing push-ups on the floor, I did them standing against a wall. While others swung around 15-pound sandbags, I stuck to my 2-pound dumbbell.
I was unashamed to need these alternatives because I was proud of where I was. I took it safe and slow, especially my first class back, and was never out of breath or too strained. Having my (sweaty) husband next to me was also a source of comfort and support. The next day, I felt slightly sore all over, and it felt so good.
Exercising with MG has been and will be a learning process. As I continue going to fitness classes, I may gradually amp up the intensity, but I know to first and foremost listen to my body.
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