“I’m a classic case of all-or-nothing”
Incorporating movement into your everyday life and setting goals for exercise are themes that the blog has catered to recently. We have now found ourselves with Maja, 21, who has rheumatoid arthritis. She tells us her thoughts about exercising and wanting to do exercise beyond just a “couch workout”.
Maja is studying civil engineering in health technology at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and has a life filled to the brim. She received her rheumatic diagnosis as a 13-year-old.
“I’m a classic case of all-or-nothing, I exercise a lot during some periods, and sometimes not at all. I wish that I could maintain my exercise regimen a little better—when I work out it really does make a big difference for me. But then something happens where my routines unravel and the months pass by. Then I do an exercise class or two, and I am back in the game for another six months,” Maja explains.
Adapting exercises to her needs
Maja feels it is difficult to go to the gym alone and thus prefers workout classes where someone tells her what to do. She lights up when she talks about group workouts and explains that because the people and the music make it so enjoyable, she feels that it is like “getting exercise as a bonus”.
“Most things in these classes work well, but if my hands are in pain I may need to avoid barbells for example. It usually works to adjust if I cannot do certain exercises, even if it can feel disheartening that it is necessary,” she points out.
Maja’s medication has worked well the past year. She experiences almost no pain and therefore thinks that she is not particularly limited nowadays.
“Before I found the right medication I had periods of more general pain. Then it was hard to find the motivation and I did not exercise at all.”
Planning her workouts in advance
Incorporating physical activity in a life that is full of tasks can be tricky, as most of us know. We asked Maja how she manages to squeeze in exercise.
“Regardless of what shape I am in, I see to that I make up a plan in advance so that I do not have the time to sit down and feel the fatigue set in. If I have a long day of classes I usually book an exercise class that I can go to on my way home. Deciding something together with a friend is another strategy—then it’s not as easy to brush aside.”
“Sometimes I succeed at tricking myself into it, if I do not have the drive. I think that I am only going to do some simple exercises, and all of a sudden it takes a turn and I feel like continuing. When I get that rush of endorphins I get really pumped,” she continues.
Missing advice for exercise habits
It is also of importance for inspiration to get tips and advice on a level that feels right for you. Maja thinks it is occasionally problematic:
“I might lack guidance on how I should train my endurance if I have pain in my knees. How do I raise my pulse without needing to run? Sometimes I get tips about resistance band exercises and seated workouts on the sofa. It seems a little misdirected to a young person who is used to being active,” she says.
“I want something fun that gets me going. Of course, I need exercise. It helps loosen up my joints,” Maja concludes.