When you are recovering from chronic illness, exercise should look different for you than it does for others. It’s important to understand how to best support your body through the healing process by knowing how much is too much, how much is too little, and what forms of movement are best during recovery.
The first step is to identify whether or not this post applies to you.
If you have:
Fatigue, migraines, fibromyalgia, digestive issues, POTS, Lyme, lupus, eczema, psoriasis, a thyroid disorder, vertigo, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, TMJ, “candida”, insomnia, edema, nodules, cysts, tumors, tinnitus, heart palpitations, vertigo, PCOS, celiac, acne, food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, vitiligo, brain fog, rheumatoid arthritis, cystitis, chronic UTIs, an autoimmune condition, anxiety, panic, depression, or another chronic health problem, then....
THERE IS SOMETHING DEEPER GOING ON.
Something that your body is constantly working really hard to combat. If this is news to you, then I highly suggest you pick up any one of Anthony William’s books to start learning about the real root cause behind your condition(s) and get on a proper natural healing protocol.
There is such a wide spectrum of chronic illness and how it manifests, but I will do my best to explain this topic in a way that can apply to everyone.
First of all, everyone is different, and everyone is at a different stage of healing.
Some of you are completely bedridden right now and exercise is the last thing that’s on your mind. Others are so bogged down by their symptoms that it takes every ounce of energy available just to get through the day. If you fall into these categories, exercise is not best for you right now. You want to conserve as much of your energy as possible as you begin a proper healing protocol.
But as you start bringing in celery juice, cutting out the “NO” foods, centering your diet around fruits, vegetables, and herbs, introducing supplements, and doing more of the work that will reduce your toxic load and allow your body to start healing, then you are going to start feeling better.
Once you start feeling better and noticing improvements, it’s time to start incorporating movement.
The goal for most on a healing protocol is to move your body enough so that you are not stagnant and so that you help keep detox processes moving right along, but also to be sure you’re not pushing yourself too far or doing too much. Mastering the happy medium of exercise is extremely important.
Any exercise that’s too intensive for you will induce adrenaline floods.
Adrenaline is corrosive to your body and actually feeds pathogens MORE SO than pathogen-feeding foods like eggs, dairy, & soy. This puts a major strain on your adrenal glands, prolongs your condition(s), can exacerbate your symptoms, and is therefore obviously both counterproductive and dangerous.
For most people, any form of cardio is much too intensive when battling chronic illness. This includes running, using an elliptical, HIIT workouts, etc. You also want to avoid lifting heavy weights or doing anything that involves a lot of muscle-building.
If you are confused by this because you feel amazing after that one-hour boxing class, know that this is an adrenaline high. While it may feel good in the moment, adrenaline floods are very harmful internally and will prolong your healing process.
I don’t say any of this to scare you away from exercise. Movement during recovery is critical, it just has to be done properly and mindfully. More is not always better! It’s really about finding a middle ground while you’re healing.
Here are the most universally ideal forms of exercise during recovery from chronic illness:
Rebounding, or jumping/bouncing on a mini trampoline, is so beneficial for recovery that I’m going to do a whole separate post on it. I recommend rebounding daily to everyone who is on a healing path and is physically able to. An ideal routine to build up to is 10-15 minutes per day of rebounding. If that doesn’t seem feasible to you right now, don’t worry, in my rebounding post I will include modifications for all levels.
If you have heavy neurological symptoms, are bedridden, or have not been able to move very much for a long time due to chronic illness, you’ll want to take your time with adding in movement as I mentioned above. Really allow your body to rest physically as you start healing internally, and only once you start feeling better and noticing improvements should you start adding in exercise. Anthony often recommends starting out with very light weights, such as 2 lbs. Start doing some light weight lifting while you sit in bed to help build up your strength and get your body accustomed to moving again.
Depending on where you are at in the healing process, you might also benefit from activities like hiking or bicycling. These options are better for those with less severe symptoms and those who are further along the healing path.
If you are at a later stage of healing in which you have some minor lingering symptoms but you generally feel really good, then you may be fine with a little cardio here and there. But honestly, it’s best for everyone healing from anything to keep the intensity low throughout the recovery process. Why? Because this protects your precious adrenals and will help you heal more quickly. That’s a really big key.
Any form of exercise that you can combine with nature, such as going for a nature walk, doing yoga outdoors, or gardening, enhances the healing benefits tenfold. Being in nature brings us in sync with our body's natural rhythms, connects us to life-force energy, and provides many emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits. Adding sunshine into the mix amplifies the healing benefits even more!
If you are trying to lose weight and are concerned that without cardio you will not reach your goals, you first must understand the real root cause behind your weight gain/inability to lose weight. I highly recommend reading Liver Rescue. There is almost as much misinformation out there about weight loss as there is about chronic illness. When you are eating the right foods, you don’t have to structure an exercise routine around burning calories. Sure, through doing high-intensity workouts and cutting calories, you might be able to force your body into shedding a few pounds, but that doesn't mean it's healthy or sustainable long-term. When you are battling chronic health problems, it’s especially important not to buy into that. Through a proper healing protocol, you can recover from from chronic illness and lose weight in a healthy way that's not going to cause long-term problems. This can be a really tricky concept to grasp, so if you are struggling with this, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help you.
Anyone with adrenal fatigue should use caution with exercise, especially in severe cases. You can read about adrenal fatigue here,
There is hope! The more healing work you do, and the more you honor your body's current need for low intensity, the better you are going to feel. Over time, you're going to have more freedom. Once you have healed, exercise will be a completely different story, and you can move your body however you want to. The more you honor your current needs, the faster you will get there!
Please keep in mind that this is a generalized post, but as I’ve mentioned, everyone is different. For individualized guidance with exercise, you can consult with me or another practitioner. And you should always check with your practitioner before making changes to your exercise routine.