Healthy exercise is an important component of our treatment program for Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Eating. Physical activity can act as a kinetic form of healing, facilitating a reconnection with the body. Exercise may be foreign to some individuals or may have been used as a method of purging. Our goal is to introduce the physical and psychological benefits that a program of regular exercise can offer. For exercise to be beneficial it does not have to be overly strenuous. Any activity that increases breathing and causes the use of major muscle groups for more than 15 minutes can be used to improve fitness. The type of physical activity we most recommend is walking. A walk will help increase cardiovascular endurance. With walking, no expensive equipment or training is necessary. Many individuals waste money by joining expensive gyms or buying costly equipment utilizing them only for the first month and subsequently letting them collect dust. For others the gym can become an obsession, a place to compare bodies and push exercise to the extent of self harm. With walking, an individual can heal the body without the potential for abuse. And best of all, a walking regimen can be easily incorporated into anyone's lifestyle.
The distance of each walk is approximately 2.5 miles. Generally, the walk consists of a simple route with some varied terrain (flat areas and hills.) To make it more interesting, the walk is usually conducted in a loop rather than retracing the same steps. The walk is conducted at least five times per week, weather permitting. The pace of our walks should cause you to breathe more rapidly and experience some discomfort, but not pain. Think of a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is sitting in a chair and 10 is running up a flight of stairs as fast as possible. We ask each individual to conduct their walk at a personal exercise level (PEL) of 6.
Other Forms of Exercise
During the course of treatment for Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating other forms of exercise will be introduced such as: stretching, pilates, yoga, gym equipment, and low impact aerobics. Since these forms of exercise may have been used as purging methods in the past, the treatment team and the individual will decide on the appropriateness of incorporating these activities into the recovery process.
As part of the eating disorder program treatment plan, each individual will be completing an exercise calendar. Keeping an exercise calendar is one way of increasing adherence to a healthy, long term exercise regimen. On the calendar, the individual writes down on a daily basi, which activity they participated in, the duration of the activity, their personal exercise level on a scale of 1 to 10, and how they felt about doing the exercise.
Our main goal for our eating disorder program is for each individual to receive the psychological and physical benefits of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.