The benefits of exercise
Getting enough exercise has been difficult for me. As a child I exercised at my school. When I finished school I used to walk with a friend until she moved away. Later I joined the gym with a friend who also has cerebral palsy. It was very helpful for my fitness. But eventually I stopped going to gym. I was busy with studies and planning to get married. My family soon worried that walking was difficult for me. This year I have been going to the gym again. I feel much better and hope I always make time for exercise.
Posted by: Deanne Newton, on 16/09/12
I need to do regular exercise.
Getting enough exercise has been a constant challenge in my life. As a child with cerebral palsy I had a physiotherapist come to the school every week to guide me. She helped me do the exercises I needed to keep my muscles from becoming stiff and inflexible.
I also participated in my school's 100 kilometres fitness program. While other kids often did six laps of the oval, I did well to manage two. I enjoyed the program however, and walked 100 km over many months for which I got a special badge to sew on to my uniform.
As a teenager I continued having physiotherapy and walking from class to class helped me maintain my mobility. When I finished school I stopped receiving physiotherapy assistance and had no set exercise plan. But I was lucky to have a friend who wasn't afraid to challenge me. On my days off from TAFE we often used to walk about a kilometre to the milk bar to get snacks for ourselves, which we ate while watching the daytime soaps. Of course the walk would burn off the calories.
Things soon changed though. My friend moved back to the country with her husband and I began full-time work. For a few years I didn't get much exercise at all. I began to realise I needed it. I was feeling quite stiff and experiencing more muscle aches and pains.
I had a friend, who also has cerebral palsy, who was going to the gym. I went to my friend's gym and consulted with a trainer. They gave me a program that involved walking on the treadmill and strength exercises. I did some stretching exercises that I used to do as part of my earlier physiotherapy plan. I regularly picked up my friend and we would go to the gym. I noticed a big improvement in my fitness.
Too busy for exercise
I continued to regularly go to the gym for a number of years. But when I started going out with my husband my life changed a lot. I didn't have as much time to do my own thing and was busy with university studies. Soon I had a wedding to plan and the gym didn't seem like a big priority any more.
After a while, I got a few concerned comments from family who felt my mobility was decreasing. They noticed I was stiff when I moved around and at times I tired easily when walking. I was getting some exercise at least half the year when walking around the large university campus. I thought maybe increasing age made my fate inevitable.
Making the effort for fitness
This year I have not been in full-time study and have gone back to the gym regularly. This has made a big difference to the way I feel. I am less stiff despite the recent cold weather. Sometimes my muscles are still a little stiff and tired but I have more days when I feel good and am able to walk a longer distance. The walking at university did help my fitness but the stretching and strengthening at the gym is also good for my muscles.
Better fitness decreases my need for a scooter. For example, if I am doing a small amount of walking at a shopping centre I can manage without one. I think exercise is important for someone with cerebral palsy because it leads to less physical discomfort and tiredness, which gives a person greater capacity to manage everyday activities. It also helps maintain better physical mobility in the long term.
I know that in the future my lifestyle will change again and it will be hard to get to the gym. However I hope I remember not to give up as I continue getting older. It does make a difference and so I have to find a way to fit exercise into my life.
Back to top