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Ataxia UK
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Hi does anyone with ataxia use the gym or go swimming.

Does anyone have positive experiences of using the gym or swimming to help with their physical symptoms and mental wellbeing.

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I use pool 4 or 5 times per week for exercise. It is the only time that I approach feeling "normal" if I can even remember what that is!! Have SCA6 with walking difficulties gradually worsening during the past several years. Live alone in the USA; I need to keep busy, but I am still mentally adjusting to this way of life!! This site is very helpful!!

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Thank you for replying. Ataxia is certainly not an easy way of life. In 12 months I have gone from working full time to no longer being able to walk and having to use a wheelchair. They haven't identified as yet the type I have. I'm glad swimming helps you and I will definitely give it a try.

All the best

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Hi Jaffa12

I also have SCA6, was diagnosed about 5 years ago, very lucky only very slow progression at the moment. I go to the gym twice a week with a trainer. I have found it has improved my muscle strength especially my legs, I definitely feel more stable. I try to do all the stuff he throws at me but sometimes fall over but I pick myself up and my trainer modifies the exercise to ensure I can do it. I am very tired when I finish the sessions but feel I am at least achieving something. If you can find someone to help challenge you then even though you are in a wheelchair it is still possible to have a go.

Hope this helps!

Marina63

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Hi jaffa12 I go swimming and find this very good as it is really the only exercise I get but also find it relaxing.xray25

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I would love to go swimming but as I am not as bad as some (I just stager about with a stick) I feel very self-conscious about the bit between the changing room and the pool does anyone else have this problem or a solution?

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Wobelyjohn, I hope you take your stick, I take my walker into the pool, no one objects.

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Hi Wobeljohn , Maber here i have trouble seeing so i kind of think i can't see them , they can't see me ! lol. No one should make you feel like that just think of the benefit that you get and how you feel in the water . I hold on to the pure relaxed feeling i have in the water and most of those people in the water (and out of it ) do not know of the struggle we have to go through . We are all individual , and they could be going through their own struggle just to get into the water , just because i (we) don't see it doesn't mean that they are not having it !! I hope this helps x maber

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Hi wobelyjon.

Perhaps you could ask at reception to see if anyone could help you get from the changing room to the pool. I now use a walking frame but even when I was using a stick a few years ago I definitely wouldn't have felt safe walking on a wet floor without help. I go to a community leisure centre and the staff there are happy to help people with mobility probems.

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Hi wobleyjohn

Please don't let the thought that other people are looking at you stop you doing the thingd you enjoy. At first I always felt self conscious in my wheelchair and also if I had to transfer from chair in public. Now if people look at me I think so what. This is me and I have the right to do the things I want to. Hope you give it a go all the best.

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Hi Jaffa,

I go swimming every Sunday and have an hour with a Personal Trainer on a Wednesday also I have joined the local MS exercise group on a Thursday (run by the Personal Trainer), it keeps me active and can only help.

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Dear Jaffa12, I use a cane, but exercise (holding on or on the floor) for strength and balance. I just finished aquatic therapy and LOVED it, as the water held me up! I plan to continue it on my own. I also take pleasure walks outside with my Access Active Rollator, as I feel safe and secure...,;o)

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Hi all. In answer to Jaffa 12's question - I go swimming twice a week and love it. It really helps the mind and body as endorphins are released (feel good factor). Another good factor is it's non weight bearing, so if you fall, then you can't hurt yourself - just spend more time under the water - ha ha. I have been going for years now (about 4) I always have a carer with me and NEVER use a locker myself (I get changed and my carer either keeps hold of my belongings or they put my things in a locker for me and take out my things when I get out). It's too slippy and I'm so frightened of falling. I leave my cane at the side of the pool. I can do the exercises given to me in the Hydrotherapy pool too which is good. Don't be self-conscious. There's all shapes and sizes and once you're in the water, no-one can see you! It's been proven that any exercise helps the mind and physically it's great too. I have found 'chair' exercises on the internet too. There's all sorts including yoga and pilates etc, so I sometimes do these. They would be useful for anyone that's in a wheelchair. It helps keep the muscles moving (it's like the old saying 'use it or lose it') and maintains suppleness. Keep moving and find something you enjoy, as that's what it's all about.

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I went swimming for the first time since being diagnosed with Ataxia today. Well, I say swimming, I was in the pool and tried to do something approaching swimming but found that my legs just floated up to the surface which made trying to actually to do anything near on impossible. Has anyone else had this problem? Also as hard as tried to stay on my front my body twisted round so I was on my back again with my legs rising to the surface - most disconcerting as it was Impossible to control. If anyone has a ideas how to get round this problem I'd be interested to hear about them as it was good to get back into the water after a long time.

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Yes I swim in a pool twice a week. Feel so good mentally and physically afterwards. No balance problems in a pool. 😄

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