My activity levels have steeply dipped because I’ve been restricted to my house. I’m unable to go on my normal walks or to the gym, and many friends are in a similar position thanks to the pandemic. To combat inactivity, my friend proposed an exercise challenge: “The 1,000 Reps Challenge.” As the name suggests, each person must do 1,000 reps of an exercise of their choosing, and within the space of 24 hours.
Over 20 people accepted the challenge. Most chose to do push-ups, but I can’t do push-ups to save my life, so I opted for squats.
I knew this challenge would be difficult for most of us, but due to sickle cell anemia, I was extra unsure if I could complete it. I was concerned because overexertion could easily result in a crisis. Plus, my sickled red blood cells carry less oxygen, so I quickly get tired.
I am very competitive and always down for a challenge. Instead of ruling myself out, I took precautions before, during, and after the challenge to preserve my health.
My friends expressed concern about my involvement, reminding me it’s all fun and games and not worth falling ill over. I agreed, assuring them that I would stop if the challenge became too intense.
I found out about the challenge approximately 12 hours before its start, so I didn’t have much time to prepare. As soon as I found out, I increased my water intake to boost hydration, then slept earlier than usual to store up sufficient energy.
Before starting my first squat set, I followed two full-body stretch videos and two leg stretch videos on YouTube. Stretching is essential to exercising: benefits of stretching range from improved blood circulation to reduced muscle tension.
Doing 1,000 squats within 24 hours is daunting, so to make the challenge more feasible I broke up my sets into small, manageable chunks. Instead of attempting an overly exhausting 10 sets of 100 reps, I did sets of 20, 25, or 30 squats at a time. Breaking up the exercises like this was extremely helpful as it allowed me to rest in-between each set and get my energy back up.
It may sound obvious, but it’s helpful to accurately keep count. I got distracted a few times and lost count of the squats I’d done, so I did an extra 30 squats at the end to make sure I actually completed the challenge.
Between the sets, I also drank extra water and did more leg stretches to help with muscle tightness.
I completed the challenge with a couple of hours to spare. I felt so accomplished, but I still had more to do to prevent major consequences from doing so much exercise. To wind down I did the same stretches I started with, then showered and went straight to bed for rest.
I took some measures typically used to treat sickle cell crises, like popping a couple of painkillers, massaging my thighs, and filling up my hot water bottle to keep me warm. Thankfully I did not have a crisis after this challenge, but the pain from the workout was significantly worse than I’m used to. I knew the pain would eventually ease but to speed the recovery process I continued my daily stretches and applied the hot water bottle to my aching muscles.
I am extremely proud of myself for completing the challenge, but I will definitely be thinking thrice before I agree to do such a thing ever again!
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? What precautions do you take as someone with sickle cell?
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.
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