A story on asthma, exercise, and productivity

Last updated: August 2017

Returning home after five days on the road often leaves me needing a bit of time to get readjusted to my home/real life. Most of the time, I actually feel more at home on the road—I think it’s my genes, honestly. Instead, this time, I feel re-energized (after I slept off the all-nighter my friends and I pulled on Sunday night, anyways) and ready to bring the energy and movement I regained at Stanford MedicineX home to the work that I am doing, and to my life.

Note/Disclosure: I attended Stanford MedicineX with my friend as his guide, and was provided some funding from both Stanford University/their donors, and Swan Lake First Nation to attend. My work with Health-Union/Asthma.Net is completely independent of this trip. (Although it probably will benefit from it.)

The re-energization is not only present in my productivity or the stories I want to tell about my healthcare experiences or the experiences of others, but also in the way I am approaching my life. Here’s an example.

I know exercise is good for me. I spent four of my five years in university learning about physical activity, health, wellness and all that kind of jazz. So, why—why—does exercise always become something I am so resistant to partaking in? I think, yes, asthma might have something to do with that for a few reasons:

  • I have to prepare to exercise. Stopping to take medicine beforehand kind of ruins any spontaneity, even if it allows for a more successful experience.
  • I still risk feeling bad after. The more I exercise, the less this seems to happen, but I still face the possibility of a post-exercise asthma flare.
  • It is unpredictable: I can do the same thing two days in a row, or a day apart with a gap day, and have a totally different experience with exercise and/or my breathing.

These things all have an impact on how I structure my day, however, none of these things mean exercise is not worth it.

Here’s why exercise is useful to me, and why I need to prioritize it—here’s what I immediately gain:

Yesterday, I ran around (figuratively!) doing errands for a couple of hours. I came home, briefly sat down at my desk, and then instead of working, did a 25-minute dance (aka flailing around in my living room) workout.

Result: My body and mind felt better—i felt more energized, focused and calm. Remember, I also have ADHD so I think the impact might be more obvious for me, but it’s still true that exercise helps with focus for everybody. In turn, this 25-minute break for activity showed in my productivity: I wrote six blog posts after a 3:30 pm workout and ate dinner and went shopping, and was still done working by 10:20 pm (note: these are actually my preferred work hours, most of the time).

Today, I am coughing more (but I need to go take my meds). But, it is not even 11:15 AM and I’ve already been productive. Even a short break is worth it. Yes, I am sure I’ve had a decline in my fitness from a few years ago when I used to do these sorts of workouts 4 to 5 days a week for 45 minutes. But, in order to get back into that habit, I have to start somewhere. Even those of us with “degrees in gym” can fall off the proverbial horse pretty hard—it doesn’t matter how long it’s been, it just matters that we get back on!

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