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Mary Byrne - Staying Active In Winter


Not long ago former X-Factor contestant Mary Byrne thought she was destined to live a life dictated by her crippling arthritis. That was until she found Flexiseq and a new lease on life. By easing the pain of arthritis Mary has been able to get up, get moving and shift four stone. She’s been active ever since and recently revealed her aspirations to get her boogie on. But staying active, particularly as the colder months of Autumn and winter set in, isn’t always straightforward. Cold nights often mean stiffer joints, so how does she keep moving? We sat down with Mary to discuss digging deep in winter, walking and the amazing benefits of taking a dip in the local pool.

I know when rain is coming…

The weather does affect me, especially in Ireland where we do have lots of seasons, often in one day. But if the rain is on its way, I will get pains in my legs. And my daughter thinks it’s the funniest thing, I’ll say to her ‘it’s going to rain tonight’ and she’ll go ‘yeah, yeah the weather doesn’t say it’s going to rain’ but guaranteed, the heavens will open and the pain will start to ease. And that’s the way it’s been for the past ten years with me. As I’m getting older and my knees are getting more arthritic I can feel it even more.

You have to dig deep…

Once the weather starts to get colder, you really have to motivate yourself to stay active. I’m up at seven most mornings with my daughter and we’ll go for a walk with the dogs. If it’s cold out I’ll say “Deborah can we leave it till later?” but she won’t have it, she says, “no, come on let’s keep this routine going”. She knows that my arthritis gets worse if I stop moving. So I put on my Flexiseq, I get out and I get moving.

Don’t underestimate a good walk…

First of all, taking away the physical bit, mentally you have time to yourself to notice things around you which helps your mental balance, it definitely does! And then if you walk often enough and it becomes a routine, you find your legs won’t be getting so stiff because arthritis is one of these diseases where sitting for too long tightens up the joints and makes them ache.

Walk to your own beat…

It doesn’t matter what pace you’re doing, you’re walking, you're moving, your blood is pumping and your arthritis will benefit from it, you’re not sitting and seizing up.

Just keep swimming…

I cannot stress how good swimming is for you if you have arthritis. The benefits you’ll get out of it are incredible. It’s cardio and if you’ve got arthritis it’s quite hard to get cardio exercises done because you’re suffering with this pain, so if you can get into the pool you don’t have to swim, you can stand in the shallow end and do exercises and you won't feel the pressure on your joints as much as you would if you were doing it on solid ground. For anyone who has problems with joints or muscles in particular, swimming loosens up everything so I would recommend it for anyone who has arthritis. I find that it moves every part of your body; I can actually do sit-ups and squats in the water as the pressure is not so bad. I find swimming for anyone, in particular for people of my age, is a much easier way of getting back to feeling fitter and moving.

The motivation of others…

When I get to the pool, there’s a lot of older people in there. And I look at them, and they’re all older than me and I just think ‘wow!’ They are such an inspiration, they get up no matter what the weather. And they all have arthritis and they all have their problems, but they get up and they get to that pool. Some of them don’t even swim in it, they just walk around in it talking to each other. But that’s what motivates me and that’s what gets my big ass off the chair and up to the swimming pool.

There’s no excuse…

There are loads of places all over between the UK and Ireland that cater to people with arthritis and other mobility issues. People have seen the benefits of moving and have forced so many of these gyms and public swimming pools to allow full access to their needs. Even if you’re in a wheelchair, they have this big chair that will lift you into the water so you can do very small exercises when you’re in the water. It’s the best thing you could ever do if you want to start getting yourself moving.

You can follow Mary on Twitter and Facebook to hear all about what she's up to.