How Working Out Has Helped Me Manage My POTS
Editor’s note: The following is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before starting new workouts or treatment plans.
On the morning of March 12, I was emotionally worn out, but I knew I needed to include physical activity in my day. My grandfather, whom I dearly loved, passed away from a brief battle with cancer three days before. Between stuffing myself with desserts, crying and getting no sleep, I could only imagine the POTS flare-ups I would experience if I skipped one more day of exercising.
So, I put on my most comfortable leggings, threw on a pullover jacket and laced up my shoes. I started running in my neighborhood with the intention of doing three or four miles. Instead, I ended up running 10 miles straight. (Note: I had been following a plan over the summer that was gradually increasing my mileage and the longest distance I was up to was 9.50, so I did not force my body to run 10 miles all of the sudden.)
I was proud of myself and I remember sitting in the driveway after my run stretching and eating peanuts. I realized on that Saturday morning I am a runner.
Oddly enough, I never knew my talents until I was diagnosed with POTS. If my cardiologist had not told me to start walking every evening, I would have never realized I could run, too. If I was not required to do cardio on a daily basis, I probably never would have gotten near a treadmill and I still would not know what circuit training is.
But now, thanks to an annoying thing called POTS, I make myself work out every day. I run when it’s 95 degrees out, I run when it’s below 20. I sacrifice my free time and choose to be disciplined instead. I spend my money on shorts and tank tops I can never wear to school, but I buy them anyway so I won’t sweat to death in the summer. When I am on vacations, I still find ways to exercise (including but not limited to: doing jumping jacks in hotel bathrooms and using beach chairs as equipment). The storage on my phone is at an all-time low because of all my fitness apps and I have Runner’s World magazines all over my room. When my friends and I hang out, they know to have me home by a certain time so I can get a workout in.
All of this seems like an inconvenience, but here’s a secret: I love it. Exercising has not only tremendously helped me manage my POTS symptoms, but it has given me confidence and emotional strength I never knew I had. Exercising is such a stress reliever for me and I cannot wait to get home from school to try out a new Popsugar Fitness video or jam out to music while I’m on the treadmill.
So, moving past my personal feelings and experiences, let me write on my specific workout plan. This is just an example of a normal week, but my exercising varies throughout the months based on my fitness goals and circumstances.
Saturday: Run 9.50 miles
Sunday: 25-minute walk
Monday: 20 minutes of circuit training, two-mile bike ride
Tuesday: 30-minute run on treadmill
Wednesday: one hour, 15 minute bike ride
Thursday: Run 6.25 miles
Friday: 20 minutes of circuit training
Saturday: 20-minute Fitness Blender cardio video, stretches with resistance band
I know my plan may seem daunting if a person’s POTS symptoms are at their worst. I had to build up to intense workouts over the course of many months. Surprisingly, the harder the workout, the better I feel. Also, it is important to not feel discouraged by what to seems to be a lack of progress. The first few weeks I started walking, I felt so weak every day, exercising seemed pointless. But, in those mundane evenings, my body was getting stronger and preparing myself for the point I am at now. Hang in there.
This post originally appeared on One Foot in Front of You.
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Thinkstock photo via microgen.