MITO and Exercise Intolerance
Because of my Mitochondrial Myopathy, my muscles have always fatigued very quickly. It’s called exercise intolerance, as my muscle cells produce the ATP energy packets in an inefficient way. When I was teaching, I was walking around the classroom most of the day. But since retiring, and after our caregiver season passed, I mostly sat at the computer. My muscles are weaker than they should be, because of my poor choices. At the time I felt so bad I didn’t imagine that I could exercise.
I had major skull base surgery in July, and afterwards I was in a very weakened condition. Increasing activity level is an important strategy in The Energy Blueprint* program I’m trying to follow. I knew I’d have to make the suggested changes slowly. But the other strategies I’ve incorporated from the Energy Blueprint have raised my energy level a good bit. So I felt safe in trying to start exercising a little.
I started by walking to the mailbox and back, which is maybe 50 feet or so. Very gradually I increased the length of my morning walk until I was walking a circuit around our house on the driveway, sidewalk, and patio. I got up to about a quarter mile and was walking at a fairly quick pace. I looked forward to getting out in the morning sun and exercising.
But, I overdid something and my left foot became extremely painful in the arch. The pain was at its worst first thing in the morning when I put weight on it. Based on my internet searching, I think I developed Plantar Faciitis. I slept in my shoes for about a week to help stretch the arch. And I started putting my shoes on first thing in the morning.
I also quit walking or standing any more than necessary in the house, because of the pain. And you know what THAT did to my painstakingly developed exercise routine. So I temporarily moved backwards in my efforts to overcome the MITO induced exercise intolerance.
Now the foot is much better, but still a little tender. I’ve increased the amount of indoor standing and walking activity, AND I’ve joined a gym. My health insurance provides free gym membership through the SilverSneakers program. And I decided to take advantage of it.
They have machinery that raises my heart rate and exercises my legs without standing or walking on the sore foot. I’m alternating using the recumbent bike and the arm equipment, so my muscle groups have time to recover. It will be a while before I’m strong enough to use most of their machines, but it’s great that I can be active again!
Working on it
I can definitely tell that my exercise tolerance level has moved up a notch or two – that I can do more before I feel the muscle cramps, muscle fatigue, and jerking. I still have to be very careful not to over-do. And sometimes I misjudge my tolerance level and pay the price for it, like my foot pain. But the prize of being more active is worth the time spent to overcome my exercise intolerance.