Exercise: good for body, spirit

  • Updated: May 16, 2010 - 3:39 PM

Haddayr Copley-Woods, who has a MS, commuted from work downtown Minneapolis to her Powderhorn residence on a bicycle she has modified to hold her crutches.


I'm a year-round bike commuter, so that involves riding about 3 miles each way in winter, and in summer I often extend that to a nice 10-mile-long ride. When commuting is your primary form of exercise, even at the end of a hard day if you just don't feel like exercising, you have to do it if you want to get home.


Several years ago I was a bit of a gym bunny, but when I started having symptoms of multiple sclerosis, I just stopped. I had it in my head I couldn't do those things anymore. Then a year and a half ago I was watching my son learn to ride a bicycle. And I thought, "Wow, it's so hard to ride a bicycle because it's so different than walking," so then I thought, "Wait a minute, just because I can't walk normally doesn't mean I can't ride a bike!" I discovered what an enormous difference it made in my energy levels.


I do yoga one or two times a week. What I've gotten out of yoga is this amazing feeling of slowly improving -- that's just a wonderful feeling. I almost yelled out with excitement when my heels finally touched the ground in down dog, it's these tiny things that you couldn't do before. Yoga can get expensive, but my class through the Powderhorn Rec Center costs $6 a class, and it's an excellent class. There are so many classes in the Twin Cities that are not very expensive.


I wish I hadn't wasted a year not getting exercise, because the thing is, you never know whether or not you can do something unless you try it. If you're physically disabled everyone's staring at you anyway, so you might as well try and ride a bike or go to the gym -- if you fall down, so what? Other people fall down, too. I wish I had started anything I wanted to do right away and hadn't seen my exhaustion and physical limitations as reasons not to bicycle or not to do yoga. My other advice is just to try anything that seems fun. I stopped folk dancing for a while, and then I just went back to it. So I limp around a lot and look a little awkward, but I'm still having a great time and getting amazing exercise.


CONTACT US If you or someone you know would be a good candidate for "How I Got This Body," e-mail us at body@startribune.com and include your name, age, contact information and an explanation of your fitness story.

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