Exercising with an Autoimmune Disease

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How I listen to my body while living with Ulcerative Colitis

Having completed two half marathons in my early twenties, and all the intense training that came with it, I strongly believed my running would go from strength to strength – but then a year later I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as Ulcerative Colitis.

Little did I know this would mean putting my fitness on hold for a while, as living with IBD would change my way of life forever and the many challenges my body would face.

Putting exercise on hold

Due to my Colitis I have had three hospital admissions since 2016, where I was put on IV steroids, given a plethora of painkillers and tests, as well as a blood transfusion.

I had become severely anaemic due to losing so much blood from my illness, and my body was so exhausted which caused me to be in a constant flare up, forcing me to put a stop to my running and Zumba classes. I was devastated when I came to the realization that I may never be able to do the things I love again.

These forms of exercise were my favourite outlet in life, and living with such a chronic disease and being told it is life long, is a hard pill to swallow.

I decided to put my exercise on hold having been so unwell, and I realised that my health was more important. I later found this was only temporary, and that periods of remission would come and go.

There were times I went weeks without running due to painful joints and I was unable to walk, however since being put on a new medication and being on and off steroids, I have thankfully been able to get back on my feet again.

Getting back to wellness

Since being on a new medication called Humira since December, I have found myself being able to run again and have so much more energy.

Getting used to injecting my stomach every two weeks is still very unnatural to me, but with each week that passes I am getting used to it. Having this new treatment has given me another life line, another chance to stay physically fit and well.

Of course I don’t fully rely on my medication alone to keep me well. I have to take care of my body, eat really healthy and get as much rest as possible, alongside my injections.

At the moment my medication is working so I am thankful, I cannot think too far ahead, I can only take each day at a time – what will be will be as they say.

Keeping the Faith

It’s important to remember that no matter how hard life can get, and no matter how many challenges we face when it comes to health, a diagnosis doesn’t have to stop you forever, because in my experience you can get back on your feet and do the things you love again, as long as you listen to your body in the process, which is why self care is now such an important part of my life.

5 thoughts on “Exercising with an Autoimmune Disease

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