I love exercise, I really do. I used to go hard at it in the gym, I rowed from the age 14 to my mid-twenties, competed in long, endurance-based events, swam and even gave Crossfit a go for a period of time. That was until my eczema got out of control - it completely changed the way I looked at exercise. My thoughts changed from how much I could push myself to how much my sweat would make my skin sting and itch, how heavily chlorinated the pool was, and whether the showers in the gym were softened water… Not exactly motivational material! As a result, my approach to exercise has had to completely change. After a long time beating myself up about doing anything for less than an hour a day and thinking that if I didn’t sweat then I hadn’t worked hard enough, I arrived at a place that allowed me to happy with just moving my body every day. I now champion yoga above running, own a pair of walking boots and see my body weight as the perfect resistance material. I do still look forward to the days where I can swim (chlorine is so bad for the skin) and as I don’t live by the sea, it might be a while yet.
I have a little black book of eczema friendly exercises that I would like to share with you. None of them are rocket science but I can do them without the worries of sweat and don’t even have to enter the gym to have a shower. It goes without saying that everyone’s body is different – exercises that don’t make me sweat may cause you to.
Exercise and/or movement is so, so important in achieving good health - both mental and physical. Even if you have absolutely no energy and don’t want to leave the house, something as simple and easy as a full body stretch will get things moving and help you to loosen up. Start from the square 1 and build from there… a stretch today might be a squat tomorrow. Consistency is the key to maintaining momentum – if anything is going to give you results, moving every day will.
It would be quicker to write the negatives of yoga instead of the positives because I really don’t believe there are any. So many say that they can’t do yoga or don’t know what to do, but you’d be surprised about how many of the poses/postures you’ve done for years in your stretching routine, or even in gym class at school! For anyone starting out, I would recommend going to a class or following a video on YouTube – there are plenty about. I personally use an app called Yoga Studio. It’s available for a one off, very reasonable charge of £2.99 and I can honestly say it’s the best app I’ve ever purchased.
Anything from a trip around the block to a gentle hike at the weekend. The beauty of walking is that it is nearly always done outside, so you’ll get some much needed fresh air and vitamin d at the same time. I add an extra element of enjoyment to my longer walks and make a delicious, nourishing and energy rich packed lunch to take with me. I usually eat it at the half way mark so that I can dream about it whilst climbing those hills! Of course the longer, more challenging walks will involve some sweating – save these for the times that your eczema isn’t so inflamed.
If you have a bike, try using it instead of your car for the shorter journeys, such as going to the local shops. You won’t even feel as if you’re exercising as you’ll be thinking about the ‘a to b’ journey. Take your time if you need to and don’t go getting all hot and bothered – the air blowing in your face will act as natural air conditioning! Beyond that you can hire a bike for the day for more scenic trips.
Short sets with longer breaks is the key (for a low sweat factor) to the below exercises…
BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES
These include things like squats, planks, press-ups, stair climbs and lunges. If you are struggling on the motivation front, a block of 3 sets of 8, of one exercise, is better than nothing at all. Me? I tend to do my body weight exercises when waiting for my moisturiser to dry after my shower!!
I bought one online a while ago – it’s small so doesn’t take up you’re whole living room. I don’t do anything fancy – mainly kettlebell swings.
I find it amazing that the things we all used to do as children suddenly stop as soon as we grow all sensible. I used to play outside all the time as a child. Now I’d question going outside and seeing how many skips I going get in a row… it’s just for fun! You can get hold of a skipping rope for next to nothing, someone might even be giving one away.
Do you love exercise but struggle to exercise/move? If so, what are you’re favourite ways to incorporate a little movement into your day?