Pongo Power client, Lara Hogan is back to discuss her experiences with chronic illnesses and the ways in which resistance training have served to strengthen her body and mind!

lara

Hi there! I’ve been a Pongo Power client for about three and a half years. For the duration of that time, I’ve suffered chronic pain due to arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

If you’re like me, you know how hard it can be to have any motivation to exercise. Some days my only motivation is to prove to myself that this body isn’t a limiting prison. Chronic illnesses affect our joints and our mobility; but the hardest parts are when the illness makes us feel fatigued, weak, or defeated.

It can be really easy to give up. I’m writing this post in case it may help someone out there, but also so I can reflect on it when I’m feeling defeated again.

To take care of yourself long-term: strength train. Powerlifting and other forms of strength training promote overall body health more than just running or other types of cardio. Weightlifting is significantly better for your joints than running too. You and I need to remember that powerlifting and other strength training is helping us brace ourselves for many long years of chronic illness ahead.

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Here are the facts:

Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.

Strength training improves bone density (for which I get a scan once a year, as I’m at risk, due to some of the medications I’m on that manage my illness).

Weight training also increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles, and tendons.

These forms of exercise are essential to help us mitigate the effects of our illnesses. It’s really important that we maintain overall health: our cardiovascular health, muscular health, joint health, all of it is improved by a strength training regimen.

For further reading, there are plenty of studies (and I’ve included some here) that show:

(1) Deadlifts are great for your back.

(2) Squats are beneficial for cartilage in your knee joints.

(3) Strength, flexibility, & aerobic training are excellent for combating osteoarthritis.

In articles that you might read about staying safe, there’s a balance of “yep, strength training is GREAT for managing chronic illness” and “just make sure that you talk with your doctor about it.”

Build a strong team of support that can help you make the right decisions for you. I take my health seriously, so I’ve consulted with my general practitioner, rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, and many more professionals about my ongoing health needs and strength training. They’ve all recommended I keep it up, and the trainers at Pongo Power help keep me safe. Each day when I go in, they ask me how I’m feeling, and we’re able to tweak our workout to accommodate any new symptoms.

Of course, training brings more than just physical benefits. For the first time, I don’t have to think about whether I could help someone move some furniture, or scale that fence if zombies come. 🙂 For me, training has been incredibly empowering; it’s made me a better manager and more confident leader. I think that I’m a better person when I subconsciously have this new safe feeling about my health and body.

Additionally, training is the thing that:

  • Got me through a breakup in an incredibly healthy fashion: training became therapeutic!
  • Gets me through really tough days at work. There are days when I walk in the Pongo Power door, emotionally depleted from a stressful day. When I leave a strength training session, I feel whole again, and so much stronger.
  • De-hijacks my amygdala; few things are more instantaneous of an emotional energy release than lifting something heavy off of the ground, with the amount of sheer focus I put into learning and adjusting my form.

While it’s true that if you or I attempt to lift an amount of weight that’s far too heavy for us, or attempt to lift it in an unhealthy way, we could injure ourselves or our joints. But, we have a great support team. Pongo Power trainers are all specialized and certified, and they’re there to help us through those tough days where a joint won’t work, or our body’s not cooperating.

Don’t let your chronic illnesses limit you, your overall health, or your happiness.

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