Adapting Exercise for Chronic Pain: My Latest Walking Challenge

I have come to realise that any kind of exercise causes more pain, but no exercise is far worse. When I don’t do any exercise, my muscles weaken which only leads to more pain.

Most days at work I would normally get quite a lot of steps in, swapping between office work and outdoor work in my job, which is a perfect combination. I can sit when I need to and walk when I need to.

However, since lockdown began at the end of March I have been furloughed, meaning I am not currently working but am still paid a percentage of my salary by the government.

I made sure to do some walking every day, but was only doing one walk of about 4,000 steps daily.

I found I started to put weight on and also certain muscles were not happy. I did far more steps when I was working, but it would be in smaller chunks and I would not notice as I had a reason to go from one place to the next. It seems so much harder to get in the steps I used to, so I needed a purpose.

I saw Versus Arthritis had a challenge to walk 10,000 steps every day in June. I knew I would not manage that amount due to the circumstances at the moment, so I adapted and set a target of 8,000 steps a day.

Day 1 01.06.2020

And so here I am, 5 days into the challenge. And a challenge it has been so far.

I have managed my goal of 8,000 steps every day. The first two days were easier as the weather was on my side. But now it is cold and damp for the first time since March and my body is not happy.

Day 2 02.06.2020

I was adamant at first that I would do all the steps in one walk, but I forget I am in pain 24/7 and my body is not made for that kind of exercise.

And so I split it up into at least 2 manageable chunks, knowing the walking routes well to know how long each one is, so I can adapt depending on how I am feeling.

Day 3 03.06.2020

On a worse day I do 3 or 4 walks or do some home exercise in front of the TV.

Either way I am trialling what works best for me and I am super proud of myself so far.

Day 4 04.06.2020

It has also made me more confident in sharing the realities of this challenge and my fibromyalgia with friends and family who are supporting me during this challenge. I have raised £170 as of today and never expected to even get over £100!

It has definitely helped me be less of a self critic and be more realistic about what I can achieve and more open about how I am feeling. I accept it for what it is and I am learning to be more adaptive to my ever changing needs.

Day 5 05.06.2020

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2 thoughts on “Adapting Exercise for Chronic Pain: My Latest Walking Challenge”

    1. It is definitely difficult. I would suggest just trying even 100 steps extra a day and work slowly up to it. I did overdo it a few days trying too hard to get more steps but it really isn’t worth it. I can do so much when I am at work, it took a while to admit that I cannot do as much when I’m not working.


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