Moving your body has many benefits for your health and happiness, even if you’re chronically ill. Gentle exercise strengthens your muscles and supports healthy joints, lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol for better heart health, and improves your glucose levels. As a result, regular movement can ease chronic pain, increase energy levels and mobility, and help you function better in your daily life. What’s more, exercise improves your cognitive functioning and reduces anxiety, depression and negative mood.
But getting started with exercising can be hard if climbing the stairs already leaves you breathless and in pain. Or worse, when you struggle to leave the house or you’re stuck in bed most hours of the day. Even if you do function relatively well with chronic illness, you may still have to overcome obstacles for physical activity. Maybe the commute to the gym already takes up much of your precious energy, or you get so tired from your workout that you don’t have enough spoons left for your other obligations.
And good resources for rebuilding your strength and fitness with chronic illness can also be hard to find. Most (online) exercise programs start at a level that’s already challenging and taxing for many ‘spoonies’. For example, ‘From couch to 5K’ schedules sound accessible, but not if simply getting out of the door for a daily walk is a goal in itself.
When you struggle with limited energy, mobility and pain, how can you start exercising without increasing your symptoms and limitations?
I’ve rounded up 5 online exercise programs with spoonie-proof exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home, designed by people who understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain, fatigue and other symptoms.
Before getting started with any new physical activity, make sure you check with your doctor which kind of exercise works best for your health condition, and how often you should train your body. You can also contact a physical therapist for face-to-face advice and a tailored fitness program.
Let’s take a look at 5 helpful online resources for rebuilding your strength, fitness and flexibility with chronic illness.
Would you like find a way to move your body that supports your fluctuating health?
On Actively Autoimmune, Zoe McKenzie combines her knowledge of physiotherapy and personal training with her patient experience of living with multiple chronic illnesses. The virtual studio contains over 50 online exercise videos that you can join from your yoga mat, bed or wheelchair. But you can also book the well-loved virtual Bed Pilates class to better manage your condition or even gently rebuild your strength and fitness.
For tailored advice, you can also work 1-on-1 with Zoe to reach your health goals. Whether you’re looking for a virtual physiotherapy consultation, exercise coaching or private Pilates instructions adapted to your needs, Actively Autoimmune offers you different gentle ways to exercise, at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home.
Sleepy Santosha is the living proof that yoga encompasses so much more than doing complicated poses.
Rachel Marie is a certified yoga instructor specialized in providing accessible yoga for chronic illness. The spoonie-friendly yoga studio offers affordable monthly memberships with unlimited access to over 100 yoga classes with different themes. No matter if you want to do restorative yoga for headaches, a gentle strength training plan or learn how to befriend your chronically ill body again, there’s a suitable class for you. The classes are even ranked by the amount of ‘spoons’ it will likely cost you. You can also download the yoga videos and guided mediations to take anywhere with you, and there’s a private and safe community to support each others health journeys.
Try one of Sleepy Santosha’s free yoga classes or download the free spoonie yoga e-guides to see if you could benefit from yoga practices that focus on healing and self-acceptance.
Want to work out from home, whenever you feel good, with your family? Then this online gym with 24/7 access suitable for all ages and abilities might be just what you need.
GO Gym is a Scotland-based online community dedicated to helping people with chronic illness improve their quality of life through movement and lifestyle. To do so, GO Gym offers functional fitness classes to train your body for everyday activities, as well as body weight training, Zumba and Pilates.
The online library includes information on exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and beauty for people with cancer, diabetes, MS, obesity, fibromyalgia and mental health problems. Depending on your needs, you can sign up for a Bronze, Silver or Gold Membership, and they even have a Junior Membership for kids aged 5 to 13.
Amy Davies Yoga UK
Do you struggle to slowly build mobility and strength without triggering post-exertional malaise? That’s where Amy Davies comes in to help.
Amy Davies Yoga offers online Mindful Movement and Relaxation classes for people experiencing persistent pain and fatigue. Drawing upon modern pain science and holistic techniques, Amy takes you through adaptable yoga postures and somatic movements to rebuild your fitness, soothe your nervous system and manage your energy.
Even if you are bed bound, there are 1-on-1 sessions to help you regain movement patterns. There’s also a big focus on mindfulness and relaxing techniques, to let you tune into your body and notice how things feel.
Check out Amy Davies Yoga’s videos to see if the movement and mediation practices or embodied coaching could work for you.
Move with Marcia
Marcia is a doctor of physical therapy and yoga teacher who believes that movement should be mindful, joyful and help you feel better. On Move with Marcia, she offers a safe space to learn how to get strong, mobile and feel better through movement – without all the toxic fitness crap.
For a small price, you can get exercise ebooks on beginner mobility or attend online workshops on yoga strength. Marcia is also available for virtual consultations so you can make a plan that works for you, your body and your goals.
Check out Move with Marcia on YouTube for guided mobility workouts and accessible yoga sessions to gradually rebuild your strength, balance and flexibility with chronic illness.
Let’s make this list even longer! Which online exercise programs are helping you to rebuild your fitness, strength, balance and flexibility with chronic illness?
For more spoonie-proof exercise tips, check out:
- Functional Fitness: How to Train for Everyday Life
- How You Can Work Your Way Up to Walking 10,000 Steps a Day
- Expert Advice: How to Overcome Obstacles to Exercising with Chronic Illness
- 10 Outdoor Exercises for All Fitness Levels
- A Simple Guide to Hip Flexibility Exercises
- 7 Exercises to Strengthen Your Balance Practice
- How to Start Strength Training When You Have a Chronic Illness