My baby tortoise, Malti, “helps” me with at-home resistance band training.

For some reason, from about mid-December through the first part of each new year, I always seem to be battling one kind of ick or another.

Recently, upon hearing that I had contracted yet another infection, a long-time close friend commented that she can imagine all the germs lining up, cheering, “Let’s all go visit Shannon! Yay!”

NOT funny.

Even less funny – many of the cures often seem worse than the maladies they are designed to treat.

Speaking of cures, in 2016, the actress Shannen Doherty released a short clip of herself dancing for exercise right after receiving radiation treatments for aggressive breast cancer.

She said even though she felt tired and miserable, making the choice to dance and move made her feel SO much better.

Not long after that, I read an article on CNN on the “medicine of exercise.”

The message was exactly the same – exercise is healing. Good nutrition plus exercise is the body’s own best recipe for wellness.

The doctors also say that exercise is exercise. In other words, it doesn’t have to be this full-on ultra run or triathlon or power lifting session to count.

Thank goodness. 

So this week, while doing battle with yet another set of drug-resistant germs and their myriad of miserable side effects, I finally decided to try it – this “exercise as healing” thing.

It only took one 10-minute session of bouncing on my trampoline to convince me – those doctors know their stuff!

I felt SO much better. The joint aches, the stomach pains, the migraine headache, the crushing fatigue – they weren’t gone completely, but they were greatly reduced and have not come back as strongly since.

One thing I had to get through my head, however, is that I am never going to be one of those avid fitness-aholics. I’m just not constructed that way.

10 to 15 minutes of good cardio or mild strength training is where my energetic sweet spot is at. I can do 30 to 45 minutes when I’m walking and still feel good after.

If I attempt to push myself beyond those limits, ill or healthy, I am guaranteed to start drawing down on the energy reserves I need to get through the rest of my day.

So imagine how happy I was to hear that 10 to 15 minutes of intense workout is as good as an hour!

Plus, since the doctors say you can do anything you want that raises your heart rate, I finally feel good about deliberately choosing forms of exercise that sound and feel fun to me rather than feeling like I’m just trying to get out of doing any “real” exercise (like the kind that requires you to go out and sweat in public while surrounded by mirrors and marathoners).

Yup. There it is – my very own weighted “adult-size” hula hoop!

Bicycling. Jumping on my mini-trampoline. Hula hooping (oh yes – and you should have seen my first few attempts to keep that hoop up where it is supposed to be!). Using resistance bands with my team of feathered and shelled spotters.

These I can do and actually look forward to them. Because of this, I can easily commit to 10 or 15 minutes of exercise on an almost daily basis.

Best of all, as I am feeling stronger, healthier, fitter on the outside, I am also feeling all of these things on the inside as well.

These days, unless the situation is really dire (and most days it isn’t), the minute I start feeling germ-y, my go-to remedy is sweat.

For me, moderate near-daily exercise truly is medicine. It is medicine to my body and medicine to my mind.

I just wish I had figured this out sooner.

And that just makes me feel even more grateful to know now that, like food, exercise is not a foe but a friend and mentor that can help me feel better every day in every way.

Today’s Takeaway: What is your relationship with fitness like? Do you love it and look forward to it? Is it something you dread? Are you indifferent – it is like taking your vitamins? Have you ever wished exercise could feel, well, friendlier – like an ally instead of a taskmaster or a frenemy? If so, what do you think might help you make that shift?