Exercise and Recovery – Step by Step

This post talks about recovery from two accidents that occurred in Sydney, Australia. We are two Brain Injury thrivers who haven’t always thrived. The thriving came after our accidents some years ago.

What helped? There are many things, but we found EXERCISE helped us recover.

These are our particular stories and the purpose of sharing them is NOT to compare. It is about showing that if you strive for something you want – then get up and do it. You will start to see what small and big achievements occur.

Here’s our stories…


Today I’m about to go for a run. When I think back to where I was 6.5 years ago it astounds me that I got here.

I adore exercise. The respiration eases any negative energy, running brings me a feeling of freedom. I think I’ll head out for 50 minutes running today.

In 2014 I fell 15 metres or 3.5 floors off a building and into the concrete pavement below. Part of that accident meant I suffered a Brain Injury and I also broke the femur of my left leg (the femur is the large upper bone of our legs).

In the initial days there was discussion about removing my leg altogether. Now I have a metal bar that was placed in my leg to help healing.

I wasn’t able to run a few days after surgery, there was a lot of healing until I could go for today’s run. It didn’t happen overnight or actually within a year of the accident.

The hospital ward is where I began limping out to walk around the hospital grounds, once free from my wheelchair. Each morning I would get up and walk, limp after limp, until I would finish about 2km walking.

My accident occurred in Sydney but I was at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane where I began walking to recover close to family. They flew me north 4 weeks after my accident and many surgeries. I remember my slow limping up into that patient plane.

Once discharged from hospital I recall asking the doctors when I would be able to run, something easy like 9km. I say easy because I was a runner before the accident.

After my question they laughed.

What I learnt was the gradual process I had to take with my body. The recovery process had to happen. The metal bar didn’t make me Wolverine, it meant I was incapacitated in some way. My first run with my fragile leg was only 1km and it didn’t feel like the dream I’d hoped.

Step by step means that you strive high where you may not reach your expectations, but you achieve so much trying to get there. I run almost as normal today, though I attempt to run on grass when possible. I do this to limit the impact concrete has on my joints.

I can tell you how concrete to the head after falling 15 metres into it was no laughing matter 😉

I was training for my first marathon in Barcelona earlier this year, but we all know Coronavirus made that an impossibility.

The unexpected Brain Injury challenges meant that at one point after my accident I was not eating well and I was exercising less…putting on weight from fat and sugar to match my mental challenges.

OK! Time to go for my run. Remember how I got here! Do what is possible and bit by bit you can do more and more until you run, swim, perform yoga or build muscle to your heart’s content.

You’ll get there but it’s you that chooses where there is. If today your aim is 5 push ups or a 1 km walk then that’s great! It’s about starting your own step by step for you.


Like Paul, I also adore exercise. I have since before I joined the military in 2009.

My accident happened in 2010 while on duty in the military. Myself and two other mates were T-boned by a semi trailer on our way to a course in the Sydney Central Business District (CBD). I was then flown to hospital. I was lucky to survive and to have recovered so well.

As a teenager before I joined the military I played sports all weekend and attended training each day during the week, whether it be Cricket or Football.

I found that exercising/going for runs or playing sport would set me up for the day as it releases endorphins (the feel good hormone).

When I was involved in the accident I was training for my first Ironman. This is why fitness helped me so much during my recovery, I’ve always strived to go one more.
I didn’t want to learn to just walk again. I wanted to run and enjoying that goal has never stopped. Once I achieve something, whatever it may be, I will want to move on to something bigger and better.

Since my accident I have competed in many triathlons, completed a half marathon, I boulder on a weekly basis, go to the Gym 5-6 times a week & play Football (Soccer) on the weekends.

I like to keep my body moving and active, it is one thing I hope never stops. It all began by learning to walk again.

Published by Paul - Brain Injured and Traveller in one.

The World is an amazing place filled with adventure, awe and excitement. As a child I dreamt that I would see every country, every crevice of the globe. And now? Now I continue to fulfil that dream...I would like to share that journey with you in some small part...

3 thoughts on “Exercise and Recovery – Step by Step

  1. I am the contrary to you. I never liked to exercise. Now I am forcing myself to do some exercises. I don’t like it. I prefer to sit down with a book in my hand. I love reading. I wish I could like exercise!!.

    1. Yeah! One thing we thought with this post was the cognitive help physical activity brings. I love reading too, part of why I became a writer, but like we said here it’s those little steps you take that will help you in the end.

      You don’t need to run a marathon BUT little walks and exercises will help you in a different way than a book would. It all helps our cognition!

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