How Exercise Shapes You, Far Beyond the Gym
Brad Stulberg

Physical activity is my antidepressant. If I miss a yoga class or don’t get to the gym enough times in a week, I begin to get antsy and irritable. Sometimes I can use household chores to substitute for exercise if I’m able to get enough done to counteract the inevitable frustration with my surroundings being overwhelmingly cluttered. Just getting out of my crowded house helps sometimes, but getting a good fast swim or a yoga/weights session at the gym is the gold standard for me. My big problem is that the pain threshold is razor thin between acceptable and damaging. Since I’m hypermobile, I will sometimes lose track of tiny markers that tell me to keep my bends and twists more shallow so my back doesn’t go out. There is a fine line between the “good hurt” and the “bad hurt.” These days, my body is sending louder signals, but unfortunately the signals never turn off. This is yet another reason to exercise. That constant background drone of chronic pain evens out and becomes bearable during a moderate, well-modulated session of exertion. Unfortunately, it comes back afterwards. But for that short period, life is good! (I like to think it is helping me overall.)

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