My story is about not exercising.
I had always defined myself by my activity. In my youth, I was a runner and a swimmer, then I was a college athlete, and later on a physician who taught medical students about health promotion counseling and who researched physical activity interventions. I was the person my colleagues, family, and friends turned to for advice on how to incorporate exercise into their busy lives.
In the early days of the pandemic, as a member of a two-physician family with school-aged children who were in virtual school, I felt as if exercise was the one thing in my life I could control, so I did online workout classes as though my life depended on it. I soon developed a nagging case of tennis elbow that left me unable to swim or do yoga, so I switched to running exclusively.
Then in November, my mom was admitted to the palliative care unit at my hospital after a slow and then fast decline from multiple sclerosis. The “Fitness” rings on my Apple Watch became life preservers that I had to close every night.
But even as I was doing it, I knew I shouldn’t be running every day. Surprising no one, I developed an overuse injury in my hip. In desperation, I reached out to my sports medicine colleagues, who told me what I already knew—that I needed to rest.
It’s hard to rewire a brain. I never felt great about not exercising, even though it was the right and necessary thing to do. But I did learn to be a little gentler to myself. I learned that pushing yourself to your physical limits isn’t the only way to to seek good health and that restorative yoga can have as much value as high-intensity interval training.
Holly Ann Russell
Rochester, New York
1 thought on “Learning to Rest”
Exercise has its place and with people with conflicting health conditions that place may not be with them. Do what is right for your body. I’m pulling for you.