With Summer Heat and EDS, I’ve Tried a New Way to Exercise

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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I’m not sure how it’s August already. I’m a teacher and feel like school just finished for the year, and now this week I head back!

This summer has been odd, as my horse Cherry has been off due to injury, the heat has been intense, and I’ve been flat-out tired after this past school year. I still need to keep moving though, and with me riding less at the moment and the weather uncooperative, I’ve felt like I needed another way to exercise.

This may be surprising to some people, but as much as I love being active, I don’t like exercising if it doesn’t have a “point.” For example, I don’t care for just running, but I happily used to run for miles in a soccer game. Similarly, most other types of exercise for the sake of it I find tedious and boring. I’d rather do farm chores like stacking bales of hay than lift weights any day!

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Even though I used to run quite a lot for soccer, now jogging even a hundred yards gives me extreme pain in my knees. I think I probably have more joint damage than I like to admit to myself, and much of it may be a result of the sports I played when I was younger, before I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).

I don’t do anything halfway — ever — so regardless of my pain, when I played sports, I often ignored my injuries and pushed through anyway. While in some ways I admire my younger self’s stubbornness, I also sometimes wish I hadn’t done so much physical damage to myself in the process.

As a result, many traditional exercises are tough for me now. I can’t run on a treadmill, and while I enjoy walking and hiking, it’s been far too hot. Ellipticals are great, but a decent one is easily over a thousand dollars.

After some looking, I decided to try a Gazelle-style glider, which doesn’t produce impact on my joints because it’s all a sliding motion. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the price was much more reasonable, around $200, and it was compact and quiet. I figured it was worth a try.

Surprisingly, I actually don’t mind it. It’s not the same motion as running, so it uses a variety of muscle groups in your back, core, and legs. You can adjust the intensity of the workout simply by changing how big you make your stride and the angle at which you hold yourself.

And while I don’t love the fact that it’s exercise for the sake of it, I can’t deny that I feel better after using it if there’s a day when I can’t ride or it’s too hot to do much outside (and tossing on a favorite old movie while I work out doesn’t hurt either!).

Being active is a huge part of how I manage my EDS, and when my usual exercise pattern is disrupted, sometimes it takes a little bit of creativity and a willingness to try new things.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos 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 Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Rob O. avatar

Rob O.

Glad you tried the glider, because Kevin Muldowney, EDS PT, has suggested that an Elliptical machine can be a dangerous exercise for us (since that motion subluxes the SIJ). YMMV though! Regardless, thanks for sharing your experience here--tired of my recumbent bike. :)

JT avatar


Then what would you suggest? And do NOT suggest Muldowney’s book! I mean other than a recumbent bicycle or walking? Swimming requires access to a pool so is not an option. It has to be at home, not cumbersome or take up too much room, inexpensive (less than $200), and easy on the joints.


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