Midlife & Menopause Moments

Join Dr. Bitner in a lively discussion about midlife changes and menopause.

What Are Your Exercise Barriers?

by on March 20, 2014 2 Comments

I had surgery a few weeks ago to repair my hip, and I am pleased to report that the surgery went very well! I was born with a condition called hip dysplasia, in which the head of my femur is misshapen and not in a perfect ball shape. Over the last 47 years, wear and tear in my hip area has led to bone spurs and a tear in the joint lining tissue. Fortunately, the fix was a minimally invasive surgery, and as long as I follow doctor’s orders (which I am), I should be back to business as usual in a few more weeks. In the meantime, I cannot put any weight on my left leg; I am resigned to using crutches and doing minimal activity. This is definitely not what I’m used to doing—I want to exercise!

However, I am grateful for two things that I did before surgery: I lost weight and I was in good physical shape. And, although I know this phase in my life will not last forever, I do have some real barriers that keep me from doing what I want to do. My usual barriers of fatigue and limited time have been replaced by barriers of physical limitation and lack of mobility.

So, how am I getting around my exercise barriers?

  • I am keeping my “picture of self” clearly in mind. I see myself being healthy and fit for the long term: hike long distances, ski, bike, maintain my low risk for heart disease and cancer, and feel good overall.
  • I am accepting that I have temporary barriers and not letting myself get down about them. I am allowing myself to do things I typically don’t have time for: reading, listening to music, doing puzzles and simply hanging out with my family, without the pressure of time.
  • I am learning how much and what types of exercise I can do. I have awesome physical therapists. And because I’m already physically strong, they have taught me one-legged planks, side planks, one-legged push-ups and modified sit-ups that won’t strain my healing hip. In addition, I am also doing my prescribed Kegel exercises, glute strengtheners and quad squeezes. I am actually looking forward to getting in the pool (when my surgeon gives me the go-ahead) and being able to “pull” with my upper body for hours!

My point is that we all must acknowledge we have barriers, if we want to be successful—some are short term and some are permanent. What you want for yourself is possible, but it can’t happen without a well thought out process. This process includes the following steps:

  • Determine an obtainable and realistic goal.
  • Develop a strong picture of yourself reaching that goal.
  • Research ways around your barriers, which could include time, money, knowledge or ability.
  • Once you have named your barriers and decided how you will get around them, include your exercises (in advance) on the schedule. Just like going to work or picking up kids from practice, exercise needs to be an event on the schedule that can’t be interrupted.

Please share your exercise barriers and what you have done to work around them. Together, we can achieve good health, despite our barriers!


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About the Author ()

Diana Bitner, MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She received her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Bitner has special interests in women’s wellness and prevention of heart disease, menopause, perimenopause, laparoscopic and robotic pelvic surgery, and pelvic pain. She is also fluent in Portuguese.

Comments (2)

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  1. Michelle geesin says:

    You are always such an inspiration. I’m glad I got to see you today

  2. Stephanie Millis says:

    I, too, have barriers to exercise that I have to overcome.

    I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 30 years ago. Until the last 10 years, the MS has been mild enough that I was still able to exercise and compete. I think that all that exercise helped me to build and maintain a strong body, and a strong, determined mind. That is what is keeping me physically strong now that the MS is creating more physical disability. I cannot do some of the things that I did in the past, but I have stuck with the things that I can do, and I don’t give up. If ever I want to blow off an exercise session, I tell myself that the exercise keeps me strong so that the MS can’t overtake me. The MS is stronger than any competitor I’ve come across when I was racing, but I won’t go down without kicking and screaming!
    Someday, the MS may win out, but I’ll know that I gave it the best that I could because I exercised regularly.

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