Keeping Fit For My Future

Ramesh explains why it's essential to exercise regularly to help keep fit for the future

My name is Ramesh Lad and I am a UK Thalidomider. The drug’s affects left me with phocomelia. I have been living and working in Canada for the past 16 years and now live on Vancouver Island with my wife, Julie.

About 12 years ago, I began to realise that some of my everyday activities, like getting dressed, transferring in out of my car, and such, were becoming more difficult, tiring and time consuming. Alas, at the age of 43, the wear and tear from the effects of my disability was creeping up on me. It was a wake-up call to find ways of maintaining a realistic level of fitness.

Finding the right fitness regime for me

I started with stretching, balancing and subtle core work at my local gym with the help of a staff member, who later became a very good friend and an ally in devising exercises. We also had a good few laughs trying and failing with some of the experimental exercises.

Noticing the positive physical, as well as mental, outcomes from exercising, I was encouraged to make time to do some type of physical activity at least 2 or 3 times a week, which could include exercising in the gym, swimming or making a conscious effort to use my manual wheel chair.

In the last 6 years I began to follow a more regular monitored regime of exercise in the gym and pool. I use a Polar heart monitor with a watch with just one adjustment in the settings, which is my height. I did try using my normal height of 3' 8" (head to toe), which gave accurate heart readings but crazy results on the calories burnt, which if true, would have left me as thin as a rake within a few weeks of exercising; alas not. I believe that the settings for calories burnt are calculated based on height, weight, age etc. As an experiment to attempt to get a more accurate calorie count, I put my own age and weight in the settings but I based my height on that of my PA, as he has the same torso build and weight as me. There is no scientific way of saying if this makes the calorie reading any more accurate for anyone with phocomelia but the readings do appear more consistent with similar workout and timed routines.

Not all my exercise routines are physically demanding and based on cardio/calories burnt as I found that to be neither productive, healthy nor motivational. Instead, over the years I have devised 30 different exercises, 11 of which are specifically to help with strength, flexibility, balance and stretching to help with relieving limb and muscle aches. I have also made simple floatation devices to use in the pool that help with stretching, strengthening of back, leg and neck muscles using the mild resistants’ from the water.

Positive outcomes of regular exercise

There are many positive outcomes of spending an average 3 to 4 hours a week stretching, sweating, grunting and groaning and giving my heart a good run for it’s money. For example, I believe that this regime is allowing me to stay pain free, gives my body flexibility in my motion and mobility, maintains my weight, although that could always be better. Finally, I also find that emotionally and mentally, exercising helps my state of mind and I do notice a difference in my body and mind when I do not spend time doing something physical, even if it is only 20 or 30 minutes in the day.

The exercise routines I use, works well for me but I am sure that won’t be the case for everyone but I hope they can give ideas that can be adapted to meet individuals needs and I am quite happy to share my 30 different workout routines with anyone who would like to know more about any of the exercises and their benefits as they apply to me. I would be happy to send videos, photos or discuss them on Skype, WhatsApp, etc.

See Ramesh's unique gym workout here.