6 Exercises for Chronic Health Conditions

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 27 September 2018
  • 3 minute read
6 Exercises for Chronic Health Conditions | The Health Sessions

This article was written by Joshua from Detox Organics

Living with chronic health conditions comes with a lot of troubles, as you often feel pain while doing simple tasks that never have been an issue. No matter if you’re suffering from arthritis, COPD or Crohn’s disease, you’re always on the lookout for ways to get better. In the case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), people often try to figure out how to get rid of bloating, because that’s one of the main reasons for their discomfort.

One other remedy to the constant pain that’s hardly talked about is exercise. Sure, it can be challenging to exercise with chronic pain. You may feel easily exhausted and experience a lot of discomfort. On the other hand, inactivity can also weaken the muscles and joints over time, which is why it is encouraged to exercise often to regain strength and increase energy. 

The Health Effects of Exercising on Chronic Health Conditions

1. Heart disease
Exercising helps to improve heart health and boosts cardiovascular fitness. It also enhances blood circulation, as the heart becomes stronger to pump more blood throughout the body. Studies have also shown how interval training in people with heart disease can produce significant benefits.
2. Back pain
By engaging in core exercises, you strengthen the muscles around your spine, which will eventually provide relief from back pain, as your spine gets better support. Engaging in low-impact aerobic activities will also improve strength and endurance in your back, making your back muscles function even better.
3. Diabetes
Regular exercise allows the release of more insulin into the bloodstream more effectively, thereby lowering your blood sugar level, which supports you to fight diabetes. It will also help with weight management and give you an energy boost.
4. Asthma
Exercising has been shown to help relieve asthma by controlling the frequency and severity of attacks. This explains why many asthma patients are encouraged to exercise often.
5. Arthritis
Exercising helps to build muscles. And when the muscles that support your joints are strengthened, it aids in easier movement and eases stiffness. You will tend to walk better as you regularly exercise.

6 Exercises for Chronic Health Conditions | The Health Sessions

6 Exercises You Can Do to Alleviate Chronic Conditions

While exercise could benefit your body in so many ways and help manage your chronic condition, there are certain exercises you shouldn’t do. Here is a list of safe exercises to practice with a chronic condition.

Disclaimer: Please always check with your doctor or physical therapists before starting a new exercise routine.

1. Weight Lifting

Contrary to popular opinions and ideas, weightlifting isn’t just for bodybuilders. It can also relieve symptoms of chronic illnesses. Weight lifting helps you to lose body fat, gain strength without bulking, decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and reduce the risk of injury. It also makes you burn more calories, improve your posture and reduce stress while enhancing your mood.

By engaging in exercises that help strengthen the muscles around affected joints, you get to manage certain kinds of chronic pain. You may want to consult a physical therapist to know how much weight you need to handle per time, to ensure you are getting the most from your weight lifting sessions.

2. Pilates

Pilates helps to improve flexibility and increase muscle strength. It works effectively on your lower back, abdominal muscles, hips and glutes, all of which can be identified as the core muscles of the body. A common misconception is that the abs alone make up the core; in contrast, the back is also part. By doing core exercises you work all the core muscles, including the abs!

Following a 2015 study, Pilates has been shown to help reduce back pain, as it focuses on alignment. It’s always best to learn how to do Pilates correctly before engaging in them, as doing them incorrectly could worsen back pain.

3. Brisk Walking or Cycling

While walking may seem like an easy thing to do, it comes with a lot of benefits and could be the remedy for the chronic pain you feel. Walking provides oxygen to your muscles, helps boost energy and also reduces stiffness and pain. Cycling, on the other hand, is also a low-impact exercise that warms up the joints and muscles. It improves muscle strength and flexibility, joint mobility and strengthened bones.

Both brisk walking and cycling can, in addition to the aforementioned benefits, help you maintain a healthy weight and manage your chronic condition. A recent study has also found them to be most effective at improving fibromyalgia symptoms.

6 Exercises for Chronic Health Conditions | The Health Sessions

4. Yoga

Yoga is known for its numerous health benefits, which includes increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality and also weight reduction.

Even better is the fact that it can help relieve chronic pain. A perfect fit for this will be Hatha yoga, which a study has found to reduce the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women who have fibromyalgia. The word “hatha” literally means “force” as it combines gentle postures, breathing and meditation.

Another alternative will be aerial yoga. This form of yoga puts less pressure on the joint and helps you to move more freely by counteracting gravity. By suspending in the air, you release tension on your bones and muscles, which improves flexibility and helps with physical pain and emotional trauma.

5. Stretching

Stretching increases flexibility and loosens stiff muscles. This will help with conditions that make your muscles stiff and impair mobility of any part of your body. Also, stretching also improves your performance in physical activities, relieves stress and calms your mind.

6. Water Aerobics

Water aerobics also works wonders on the body, as it relaxes the muscles and takes pressure off the joints. It also helps build  strength, cardiovascular stamina and flexibility. It is, however, best done with warm water, as cold water could make the muscles tense.

6 Exercises for Chronic Health Conditions | The Health Sessions
All images via Pexels.com

How Often Should You Exercise?

While these exercises may have been proven to help relieve you of chronic illnesses, it is also important to note that everyone is different. Find a routine that best suits you and the pain that you feel, to ensure you get maximal benefits. You can also seek professional help from a doctor or physical therapist to be certain you aren’t endangering yourself with the routine you eventually settle for.

In general, you can work towards getting 30 minutes of physical activity in a day for at least five days a week. You should not try to bounce back to where you left your physical activity routine if you haven’t been active for a while. It’s best to start slowly from the beginning and build back up with time. Whichever routine you eventually settle for, ensure you are consistent with it, to see results as soon as possible.

Other Things You Need to Know

1. You might need to take special precautions before embarking on this journey. This will depend on what your doctor or physical therapist recommends for you. In the case of diabetes, for example, physical exercise helps lower blood sugar. However, if you have just taken a medication that helped lower your blood sugar, it might be dangerous to exercise right away. The best advice will be to eat a snack before exercising to prevent low blood sugar. Other cases, like arthritis, might also require a warm shower to help relieve your joints and muscles before working out.

2. You might experience some discomforts like stiffness, burning, weakness, lack of energy or mood changes, which will depend on the kind of chronic illness that you have. Discuss this with your doctor to know what to expect before, during or after any physical activity.

3. Remember that sticking with a routine can be a little difficult. So, try as much as you can to be regular, even if it involves doing it with a friend to stay motivated.

How do you exercise with a chronic health condition? 

Author bio: Joshua is a writer who loves to write an article on various health & fitness topics. He believes health is wealth & to stay healthy we need a healthy diet. He also mentions how to get rid of bloating with the help of superfoods and detox drinks.

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