Getting fit after an injury: It's challenging but not impossible


Two women at gym on elliptical machine

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Trying to get fit after suffering an injury that has affected your mobility can be very tricky. The good news is that, despite the challenges, it’s not impossible.

In May 2010, after years of backaches, my L5 disc herniated. It was some of the worst pain I have ever felt in my Spine injurylife, and it took a long time to heal. Further complicating things was the fact that I had previously put on a lot of weight. I craved sugar and I indulged. I swapped my nicotine addiction for  chocolate chip cookies.

I’ve never been a star athlete, but I haven’t been a stranger to exercise and even strict workout routines, either. Although it always took a while for me to get into the habit of exercising, once I started, I really did enjoy it, and it helped my bad knees and ankles — both of which stem from a stellar career in clumsiness. Those endorphins really do improve your mood and give you energy — yet, after my back got messed up, I slipped back into old bad habits.

I work long hours, have a tricky commute (who doesn’t?) and live in a place that is all hills and stairs. By the time I would haul my ever-expanding frame up the hill, up some stairs, up the second hill and up three flights to home, my knee and back would be practically screaming, giving me the perfect excuse to not do even 10 to 20 minutes of anything exercise-related.

Although, I did try. I still have my 20-minute beginner Turbo Jam DVD, which I used to do with my eyes closed, regardless of how heavy or fit I was. Post injury, I barely get through eight minutes before either my knee or back forces me to Mini ellipticalstop, leaving me frustrated and reaching for more cookies. I even got a stationary bike, but it just didn’t work out for me.

So what finally changed? Sweat editor Jennifer Mosscrop’s article about apartment-friendly exercise equipment changed my life. It contained the solution to my problems, namely, the mini elliptical machine. Here was a chance for me to burn some calories, get my blood pumping and do some low-impact cardio that wouldn’t involve me disturbing my downstairs neighbors or hurting my already bad knees and back.

But that was only the first step.

The next steps were changing my diet, changing the way I view exercise, learning to listen to my body and finding the patience to stick with it.