At this time of year, many people are taking up healthy habits and looking to get active. If you’ve thought about exercising more but find it difficult, you’re not alone. A 2016 study supported by AAAF found that 4 in 5 people with Alopecia Areata don’t get enough exercise. However, we know that physical activity has massive benefits for physical and mental health. The same study found that people with severe Alopecia Areata who did not get enough exercise reported higher rates of stress and were more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
Whether you’re new to Alopecia Areata or been living with it for years, getting active can feel really daunting. Some of the most common concerns are around wigs and headwear, sweat and reactions of others. Love, Alopecia has previous articles on managing difficult or insensitive comments. Here we’ve collected some great tips for managing some of the most common barriers to getting active – and an extra special video at the end to help inspire and empower!
Other great tips:
- Start small
If you don’t feel up to going to the gym or joining a team sport, going for walks is a great option for both your body and mind.
- Remember progress, not perfection
You don’t need to squat 100kg or walk 10,000 steps every single day to get active. When we push ourselves too hard, we can get overwhelmed. Nothing is more demotivating than unachievable goals. If the best you can manage today is 10 minutes of stretching or a short walk, that’s so much better than nothing at all!
- Get support
If you’re really struggling to get started, personal training can be a great option. Your PT will help you set reasonable goals, keep you accountable and can teach you the best ways to avoid injury. If you feel self-conscious in a gym setting, meeting with a PT (even just for a few sessions to get started) can really help to break the ice.
- Tell someone about your alopecia
If you’re really worried about your alopecia in an exercise setting, talking privately to someone in your training space can really help to get the support you need. You could speak to the gym/facility owner, your trainer/instructor, your team captain or your coach. These people should be able to help you feel supported in an inclusive environment, and can help tailor exercises if there is something that doesn’t work for you. If you’ve never told anyone about your alopecia before, we have an article that can help get you started.
To help inspire you, we have a fantastic video from one of the AAAF 2019 Sponsorship Program Recipients Alyssa – sharing her first time in public without her wig! You can read more about Alyssa’s journey here and here.