Even when you are suffering from PMR or GCA, it is important to maintain your level of mobility and fitness as well as you can. This can be a challenge, but it can make a big difference to recovery, and it helps us to feel positive.
Many people who develop PMR or GCA have been very active before becoming unwell. You may have retired quite recently, and have been looking forward to all the walking, tennis, or golf that you could now do in your free time. The effect of steroid treatment can be so dramatic that it can be easy to imagine that you can go back to your previous level of physical activity. But we find that almost everyone who does this finds that the next day, they feel pretty rough, with a return of the aching and stiffness. On the helpline we often tell people ‘think of your earlier level of activity or sport, and then think of half of that’. So in order not to exhaust our bodies, that are already taxed by this underlying illness, if we maintain our activity but realise that we can only do about half of what we did before, this is a reasonable rule-of-thumb for working out what we are capable of.
We have a consultant physiotherapist on our Advisory Panel who gives the following tips:
Think of exercise in terms of a sequence: Stretch, Move, Strengthen (Power), Balance and Rest.
Of these the most important is Rest. Concentrate on getting the best level of sleep you can before engaging in a regime of physical activity. You need rest for your body to recover. Is your mattress giving you the right support? Try and take a short nap during the day.
Increase your level of physical activity gently. It could be just walking around the house. Many people find swimming particularly good.
If you walk, try to walk at a brisker pace for just a few minutes. This will increase your heart rate and be good for the circulation.
You can find more tips on physical activity in Issue 10 of our newsletter, and at www.laterlifetraining.co.uk.