HEALTH|Guest Post: The Hope-Focused Workout

As I’m facing Cancer Tests and fighting to regain my health I am faced with the issues of getting my body in motion.  I experience chronic pain but refuse to let that stop me and through a great network I am featuring Guest Posts that are informative and am personally inspired.  As you follow my journey hope you feel just as inspired.
The following is the first in this series and is written by:Leslie Vandever  —known as “Wren” to the readers of RheumaBlog, her personal blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis—is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.

The Hope-Focused Workout
By Leslie Vandever

Sometimes, the very idea of exercising hurts. Sometimes, it’s exhausting to think about. And

sometimes, it’s both.

What then? You know that exercise is good for your whole self, mind and body, from head-top

to toe-tips. You’ve worked hard over the months (maybe years) to make exercise a daily habit.

But today isn’t a matter of willpower, it’s a matter of pain, fatigue, low spirits, and maybe even

hopelessness. Is there some way you can exercise without getting on the treadmill, working

through the weight circuit at the gym, or going for a five-mile jog? What can you do that’ll help

you feel a little more hopeful?

Fortunately, there are four kinds of exercise that won’t jar your joints, jiggle your insides, or jab

at your tender spirit:

• isometric

• stretching

• low-impact

• giving back

Isometric Exercise

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “isometric” is from the Greek “isos,”

meaning “equal” and “metria,” meaning “measuring.” When you do isometric exercises, your

muscles are “caused to act against each other or against a fixed object.”

When you try to open a jar of pickles for the first time, it can take all the strength you have as

you try to get the sealed cap to open. That’s a kind of isometric exercise. You aren’t stretching

the muscles of your arm. Instead, you’re straining against an immovable object. You can do

isometrics anywhere: at your desk, sitting on the couch at home, even in bed. Here are a couple

of easy ones:

• Press both palms together and push them against one another as hard as you can. Hold the

press for 10 seconds. Repeat two more times.

• Sitting with your back against the back of your chair, lift your leg to a 90-degree angle. Tip

your toes back toward your shin. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Do the same with the other


• Standing with your back straight, go up on your tip-toes. Hold for 10 seconds, then rest for

five seconds. Repeat two more times.

There are lots of websites on the Internet that have other excellent isometric exercises you can


Stretching exercises

Doing exercises that stretch your muscles gets your blood moving, warms and strengthens the

muscle being stretched, and increases range of motion in your joints. Try a couple of these:

• Raise both arms above your head, as high as you can, and clasp your hands together. For the

next 15-20 seconds, try to reach even higher, feeling your muscles stretch. Repeat twice.

• Lying on your back, lift one leg up to a 90 degree angle and bend your foot at the ankle back

toward your face. Hold for 15-20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and do the same with the other

leg. Repeat with both legs twice.

Low-Impact exercises

One of the absolute best low-impact exercises around is walking. Go out and take a 30-minute

walk at least four days a week, more if you can. Start with a slow pace. Keep your shoulders

back and your head up. As you get used to walking, go a little faster. Continue this until, in time,

you’re walking briskly enough to get your heart pumping and your breathing deep.

Another good low-impact type of exercise is swimming or water-exercise. The water makes you

buoyant and takes your weight off your joints even as it provides resistance during your exercise.

Swimming and water-exercise strengthens and builds muscle, increases stamina, and improves


Giving back

This exercise works your mind, your facial muscles, and your heart. It consists of giving other

people a happy smile. A variation is to add a pleasant greeting. Exercise yourself by letting

someone with just a couple of items go before you at the grocery store, or by holding a door open

for an older person or someone whose arms are full. Be creative. Exercises like this work by

taking your mind off yourself and putting it on another person—for their good rather than your

own. They also cause a release of serotonin—the natural feel-good chemical—in your brain.

And when you make your lips and facial muscles contract into a smile, you automatically make

yourself feel better. Go on, try it!

Leslie Vandever—known as “Wren” to the readers of RheumaBlog, her personal blog about

living well with rheumatoid arthritis—is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more

than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.


• Are Isometric Exercises a Good Way to Build Strength? (2012, March 31) Mayo Clinic.

Retrieved on April 4, 2014 from

• Page, P. Current Concepts in Muscle Stretching for Exercise and Rehabilitation. (2012, Feb.)

National Institutes of Health. Retrieved on April 4, 2014 from


• Steakly, L. A Closer Look at How Stretching May Benefit the Body. (2011, Nov. 8)

Stanford Medicine. Retrieved on April 4, 2014 from


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