After experiencing a rare decent night's sleep two days ago, I felt the overwhelming urge to get out of my recliner and exercise. Running, jogging, Zumba and all other aerobic activities are out of the question. I needed something much less strenuous. So I popped in an old pilates tape (a VHS), spread out my trusty yoga mat, and followed along with the beginner's workout the best I could. Surprisingly, I did just fine. For those of you who have yet to try pilates, the exercises are done sitting or laying flat on the ground which is a perfect way to strengthen and tone for people with POTS. However, I am not sure how great these exercises would be for someone with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. A lot of my joints were snap-crackle-popping and I don't think I even have EDS. As with any exercise program, proceed with caution and consult your doctor if you're unsure.
The biggest advantage of following a workout program at home instead of in a class is that there is no instructor breathing down your neck to work harder and no "normal" peers to compare your abilities to. You are truly free to work at your own pace in your own comfortable space free of judgement and competition. Although I used to thrive on a rigid environment in my ballet classes, I now realize that the pursuit of perfection is something my body simply cannot handle anymore. And that's okay. Rather than pushing my body to extremes, I am going to take things slow and easy when it comes to exercise. Some movement is always better than no movement at all. Every move we make helps stimulate circulation. So even if I am having a horrible potsy day, I am going to make it a goal to do light exercises or stretches from my bed or recliner if I have to. My cardiologist told me to work on strengthening my legs with a low recumbent bicycle, yoga, or pilates. I am not sure of the science behind it, but he seems to think that strengthening my leg muscles should improve my symptoms overall. So I have to give this whole exercise thing an honest effort. I am going to give it at least 30 days. Like the instructor in my pilates video says: "After ten sessions, you'll start to feel better. After twenty sessions, you'll start to look better. And after thirty sessions, you'll have a whole new body." I'm going to hold her to that. Wish me luck!