Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening. It is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. These blockages are usually caused by a blood clot that travels from the deep veins of the leg.
Symptoms include shortness of breath that worsens with exertion, chest pain that may feel like a heart attack or a bloody cough. These symptoms help make it a challenge to stay active; however, with proper care and a good plan, staying active on some level, is possible.
Below I have outlined some useful information that will help when trying to stay active with or after a pulmonary embolism.
Follow These First Steps.
You may be wondering what your first steps should be in trying to get fit again. I think taking the following steps, in order, will get you on a productive path.
- Discuss any exercise plan with the medical professional that is treating your condition. This is a serious condition, and sound medical advice along with taking cues from your body is vitally important.
- Find a way to come to terms that it may take you a while to get back to your normal physical activity, and that is okay.
- Decide what your overall fitness goals are. Where would you like to see yourself a month from now, or a year from now. Keep it very simple; you don’t want to overwhelm yourself.
- Consider getting an activity tracker or an app to help you keep track of your progress.
Once you have gotten through your initial steps, it’s time to start the physical process of getting back on track.
Try Exercises You Enjoy.
Below are some activities that can help you get active again. However, it is important that you perform activities that you actually like and enjoy. Varying your activities will also help keep you motivated.
- Walking – Walking after surgery for PE is very important in order to prevent other pulmonary embolisms. Even if you have not had surgery, walking still helps improve circulation, which may prevent blood clots.
- Swimming – Cardiovascular health is important as it relates to this condition. Swimming works the heart muscle and builds stamina over time.
- Yoga – Yoga poses that stretch your calves, thus improve circulation in your legs, is a way to help prevent more pulmonary embolisms.
- Stretching – Just like yoga, stretching that works the legs helps improve circulation. You also want to stretch or flex your ankles as this to improve circulation in the legs.
Create a Plan and Set Goals!
The process of getting back to normal with or after PE can be daunting; this is especially the case if you try to think in too broad of terms. I suggest the following in implementing your high level goals.
- Set weekly and daily goals to help you reach your high-level fitness goals. Keep the number to 3 or fewer. You want to have reasonable goals that do not cause further stress. Maybe a goal is to simply to take a certain number of steps each day, and incrementally increase them over time.
- If possible, get a partner to work with. It may be as simple as having a walking buddy. Having a support system is a great benefit in the recovery process.
- Understand that no two recovery plans or periods are the same, and don’t compare your recovery to anyone else’s.
Document Your Journey.
Setting goals is important, and the process may take some time. Be sure to document your journey. Documenting has the benefits of celebrating your accomplishments and facing your challenges. This will help in the recovery process. A fitness tracker is great in capturing numbers, but the process is about so much more than that. You have a story to tell, and your journal will help tell it.
Never Give Up.
There will be times that you feel like giving up, but staying consistent with your fitness plan is critical to your recovery. Again, a good plan and consistently setting goals will help you stay on track. Develop the habit of working out so that it becomes a normal and expected part of your lifestyle, but don’t beat yourself up on the days you are not able to push yourself to workout. The body does need rest.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Bored.
There are many things you can do in the recovery process as mentioned earlier. Whether it is walking, swimming, or yoga, it is best to mix it up a little. Try different things so that you don’t get bored, and your body is challenged in different ways. However, still always pay attention to the cues your body is giving you. When your body says quit or change it up, do just that.
Having a plan and setting goals is a key to recovery and staying focused. The most important thing is that you stay as active as you can in order to allow your body to recover, and prevent more blood clots. You will also have the added benefit of being healthier overall.