Exercise and General Health Tips
By taking care of your general health you are more likely to avoid problems with CMT and be able to lead a healthier and fuller life.
The human body is designed to be active. Long periods of rest or inactivity will actually damage your body. For more on staying active – including daily stretches and gentle exercises.
A healthy weight
Being overweight or obese is bad for anybody’s health whether they have CMT or not. For people with CMT, carrying extra weight can make matters worse because it:
- makes it more difficult to exercise or stay active
- puts more strain on already weakened muscles and joints
- increases the chance of back pain
- increases the risk of diabetes, which can lead to other neurological problems, particularly in the legs and feet
- puts more pressure on your heart and lungs
- cuts the amount of oxygen that is available to your body – to work effectively every cell needs a good supply of oxygen
The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to keep active and eat healthily. For more on this see Healthy eating.
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Alcohol was removed from the list of neurotoxic drugs in July 2004. While moderate drinking does not usually cause ill effects to those with CMT, alcohol does affect balance and coordination, which may already be compromised in people with the condition. Heavy drinking or getting drunk is not advisable because it can damage your nerves and this effect is likely to be exaggerated in people with CMT. If you have questions about alcohol and your health, see your GP.
As with alcohol abuse, recreational drugs are thought to have a damaging effect on the nervous system and this is likely to be worse for people with CMT.
Chilblains and cold extremities (especially feet!) are a problem for many people with CMT because:
- the normal heat generated by muscle activity is missing due to loss of muscle bulk and lack of movement
- CMT can affect the autonomic nerves which control the blood vessels and therefore blood flow. This is also why the skin looks patchy and discoloured
If you sit a lot, perhaps because you use a wheelchair, take extra precautions to avoid pressure sores. Make sure you use a decent pressure-relieving cushion (talk to your occupational therapist) and stretch out on a bed from time to time. A physiotherapist or occupational therapist can teach you how to do wheelchair push-ups at regular intervals throughout the day using your forearms (rather than your hands/wrists) to take the pressure off your bottom.