Hello, everyone, Jenny Pollreis here to help you face and conquer your exercise fears.Whether you are just getting started or taking your exercise to the next level, it’s common to have some fears and thoughts of failing.  Get that “I can’t” attitude out of your head and replace it with an “I will” attitude.

As an amputee, when I started becoming active I was scared.  Many questions ran through my mind.  What if I get hurt?  What if I can’t do anything?  What if I join a gym and people laugh at me?  Where do I even begin?

For me, I started with the most obvious step, I joined a gym.  This was my way of “pecking out of my shell.”  Seeing other gym-members there held me accountable as faces became familiar; when I didn’t make it to the gym they would ask me where I’d been.  Members began telling me I was their inspiration; I said “Me?”  I can barely walk?”  They would reply saying “but you are here.”  I didn’t want to let them down, as an inspiration, I was also their motivation.  With time, practice, and pushing myself to the limit, I became who I am today.

If you’re unsure about boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt, there is good news.  There are many light-moderate exercise options such as core work (mat Pilates or floor yoga), utilizing the pool by hanging on to the edge and kicking, and many more exercises at this level.  Once these exercises are mastered you can move on to moderate-intensity aerobic activities such as walking, brisk walking, bike riding (stationary) or swimming. These types of activities are generally safe for most people.

Some of us may have limitations and struggle with everyday activities such as body transfers (to and from a bed, chair, or shower), walking without an assistive device, climbing stairs, grocery shopping, or playing with your children or grandchildren. How does this relate to physical activity?  If you are physically active, you have a lower risk of functional limitations than those who are inactive.

This is remarkable in three ways:

  1. It only takes a few lifestyle choices to have an impact on your health and physical activity. People who are physically active for 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of health problems than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.
  1. Nutrition contributes to energy levels and fat loss/gain; watch what you eat.
  1. Anyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape and size do not matter.

If you’re just beginning or you are advanced, do you feel unstable on your leg?  Research shows that performing balance and muscle-strengthening activities each week, along with light or moderate-intensity aerobic activity can help improve balance and stability while reducing your risk of falling. In the video accompanying this blog I will show you some simple muscle-strengthening exercises anyone can do anywhere.  You can also download a step-by-step guide for these exercises from our website.

Start slowly.  If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, consult your doctor to find out if your condition limits, your ability to be active. If so, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum guidelines, try to do as much as you can. What’s important is that you avoid inactivity. Even 60 minutes a week of light to moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.  The bottom line is, the health benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks of getting hurt.

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