When we think about getting healthier and managing various chronic conditions, such as Diabetes Type 2, Osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, rehabbing a joint replacement, mental health, and stress management, one of the suggestions that always pops up is movement. Movement is a very crucial part of how we recover, manage our pain, and make progress. But, movement is only one piece of the puzzle. The other piece is consistency. In this article, we’ll examine the important relationship between movement and consistency, especially in regards to dealing with chronic pain.
In the health and wellness industry, there is a lot of debate over the role of movement. On one hand, some individuals believe in pure and proper biomechanical movement (doing it right) or not performing any movements at all (until you fix any compensations). On the other hand, some individuals believe that any movement is good movement, no matter if it is perfect or not. So, which one is correct? Well, they both are. It is important to move and move well, no question about that. So how do you move and move well?
We don’t want to provide blanket statements on health practices like the healthcare and insurance sectors would like us to. We believe what works best depends on the situation. Who is the person we are talking about and what is the challenge or condition they are dealing with? With this individualistic approach, we are able to make modifications specific to the individual and give them the opportunity to be successful with what they have to work with.
No matter how many times we try to solve long-term issues with quick fixes, it never ends up resolving the problem permanently (does anyone remember The Biggest Loser?). These quick fixes may help for a bit, but they ultimately may not be sustainable (let’s wait and see what happens to CrossFit). That’s why it’s so important to focus on choosing movements that you can do consistently.
The first key is to figure out where you are starting from. What is the condition you are dealing with? Do you use a walker or a wheelchair? How much movement can you do each day? How can you add some movement to your day without creating a negative domino effect? You want to get moving, but you don’t want to push yourself too far! Finding something that is challenging, but also doable every day will benefit you most. One of the focal points should be wrapping up with a short, little burst of intensity in your movement every day. If done consistently, this will result in great gains for you in the long run.
There are two main rules to keep in mind that will help you get started and keep you moving consistently.
Rule # 1: Do What Works for You
The first rule that will help you achieve continued success is to do what works for you. This should be some form of movement that you can do consistently without it being too much of a strain/pain on your body. Think about S.M.A.R.T. activities that you could incorporate into your daily life. These are activities that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Some examples of S.M.A.R.T. activities include walking or wheelchairing around your house as exercise instead of just moving from place to place.
When you’re first getting started and focusing on consistency, try to walk or move around for 5 minutes every day for 6 days a week. The key is to try and do this for a month while limiting your pain level. This means that your pain is not getting worse day-to-day and you are able to tolerate the pain while you are moving or even find a way to eliminate it. If you are feeling good after one month, add in another set amount of time that you can successfully accomplish regularly in your daily health routine.
If your body can handle more movement and the issue is simply doing the exercise, consider hooking up with a walking buddy or looking into one of the apps that can help you get moving. If you can’t think of anything for your daily movement, please email us at the Life Energy Foundation and we will help you out, as well as support you with any obstacles you face on your journey.
Rule # 2: The 80/20 Rule
The second rule is something called The 80/20 Rule. There are several different versions of The 80/20 Rule, but the one that we want to focus on states that what you do 80% of the time is what you will get results on. This all goes back to that important little word we stressed earlier: consistency. If you can manage to do something 80% of the time, you will start to see results.
For example, for your movement and exercise, it is much more important if you routinely walk 80% of the time compared to if you did something else like jogging only 20% of the time. Think about it in terms of a week: if you walk for 30 minutes 7 days a week, you are doing a low-intensity activity but for a fairly long time. This saves your joints, stokes up the metabolic rate, and lubes up your connective tissue. Conversely, if you jog for 6 minutes a day, you are getting the intensity of boosting up the metabolic rate, but that short burst does nothing for loosening up your tissue or the stress it puts on the joints. At the end of the month, the 30 minutes a day will have a greater impact on your total health. By choosing the more sustainable, long-term option you get the benefit of months and months of helpful activity vs. the risk of possible injury from high-intensity activities and the bouts of inactivity that come while rehabbing. The important thing is to pick something you can achieve and want (okay or at least tolerate) to add to your healthcare routine for the rest of your life.
At LEF, we know that getting moving to help with your chronic condition can be tough to start. However, we can assist you on your journey by providing you with valuable resources and tools, as well as all the support you need. We have over 25 years of experience transforming lives and, when you are ready, we are here to help you transform yours as well. Take the first step today with our free 30 Days to Better program, which includes exercises, meditation, and other tools!