When many transplant recipients first hear about the World Transplant Games they think,"I could never do anything like that."
When many transplant recipients first hear about the World Transplant Games they think,"I could never do anything like that." They think that the games are very competitive, and only superb athletes can participate. This is only true for some countries, however anyone can join Team Canada to participate. The purpose of the games is to show that organ transplants allow recipients to return to healthy, productive lives.
So now the question is, "Where do I start? How do I improve my fitness, especially now that I'm interested in going to the games?" The first rule is to start early. Think about the commitment you are making to yourself and your fitness program. Tell people what you want to do. Share your plans with your doctor, family and friends. Then take the biggest step of all: COMMIT TO YOUR COMMITMENT.
If you haven't done very much exercise for awhile or are recovering from a long illness, start by walking. Walk whenever you can for as long as you feel comfortable. Work up to walking for half an hour every other day. Keep doing this until it feels easy.
Once you're comfortable with normal walking, begin walking briskly for 30 minutes. Check your pulse every 5-10 minutes. Speed up if your pulse seems too low, and be sure to slow down right away if your pulse seems uncomfortably high.
After a couple of months of brisk walking for 30 minutes, try adding a few short jogging sessions to your routine. Warm up by walking slowly, then go into a brisk walk, and then do a couple of jogs of about 100 yards or so. This is about the length of a city block.
Each week add one or two more jogs to your walk. Never increase the amount of running drastically, and back off if you feel discomfort. Avoid the frustration of an injury from trying to do too much to soon. (Take it from a lot of us who've tried this route: it's very easy to get injured, and very hard to heal quickly! Ed.) As your program progresses, you will eventually be running slowly for the entire 30 minutes. You may want to keep a few walking breaks in your routine.
As you begin to feel stronger, increase the length of your session to 40, 50 and then 60 minutes over a a period of a few more months. Don't push too hard, and back off when you feel any discomfort. Try to get out three times a week, and allow your body to recover between each session.
You will start to notice some of the benefits of exercise as you progress. You should notice both cardiovascular and mental benefits. Getting back into shape can be tough sometimes, but try to have fun. Enjoy the scenery. Walk or jog with a friend. Plan your sessions for different locations. Build in some small rewards for meeting your goals. Promise yourself a cafe latte, special dinner, new outfit or whatever motivates you to keep on track.
Pretty soon, the prospect of going to the games won't seem so daunting. The games in Sydney, Australia are only a year away, but what about the '99 games in the Netherlands? Start now and you will be ready and full of confidence.