Exercise and sweating are vital to improving and maintaining your health and mental well being. The body responds to physical activity in ways that bring positive effects — especially for those who suffer from chronic health conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and even candida. Exercise has a beneficial role in almost all chronic conditions including diabetes, colon cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
Exercise is most likely the last thing on your mind if you are suffering from chronic health conditions. But it is essential to do some physical activity every day. Exercise does not have to be intense to bring results; even light to moderate exercise has health benefits. And as you begin to exercise regularly, your stamina and strength, as well as your over-all feeling, will generally improve.
Another advantage of regular exercise is the release of endorphins which improve your mood and are also natural pain relievers.
Exercise will even increase your energy level and help you sleep better. Research has proven that those with chronic conditions who are inactive suffer more from complications and symptoms than those who are active.
A report on health and exercise from the United States Surgeon General states that regular physical activity improves health in the following ways:
- Reduces the risk of premature death
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Reduces the risk of colon cancer
- Reduces blood pressure
- Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
- Helps control weight
- Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
- Helps older adults become stronger
- Promotes psychological well being
Not surprisingly, The Amercian Heart Association® “heartily” endorses exercise. Their website (www.americanheart.org) reminds us that the heart, like every other muscle in the body, gets stronger with regular exercise.
How To Begin
If you are currently inactive, you should start exercising TODAY. Start slowly by walking and build from there. Walking is actually one of the best types of exercise because it can be done virtually anywhere, is inexpensive, low impact, and easy to do. It is also much less demanding on the body than jogging or weight-lifting.
The first few times you exercise, don’t go crazy and exercise until you drop! You’ll burn out very quickly. Thirty minutes on most days of the week should be your goal, but start with as little as five or ten minutes if you are sick. Studies have also shown that exercising in three intervals of ten minutes each throughout the day has almost the same benefits as one 30-minute session. Three short walks of about 10 minutes each give you a great start, something most anyone can do. Keep this in mind as you build up to 30 minutes almost every day.
There are many things you can do to incorporate more activity into your life: Use the stairs instead of an elevator. Do yard work. Take a walk on your lunch break. Go dancing. Go on a bike ride. Involve your family so that they can share in the benefits of physical activity as well. Go for a walk together. Go rollerblading. Go swimming. Kick a ball in the park—see how much fun you can have!
Exercise should be enjoyable and stress relieving. But most importantly for those suffering from chronic conditions, it should make you sweat. For exercise to be truly beneficial, you must do it on a regular basis — once or twice a month will not provide the needed benefit. One way to keep exercise from becoming boring is to vary your routine and stick to activities that you enjoy. Go for a walk one day. Go biking the next. Take a yoga class. Play tennis with a friend. Varying your routine will keep exercise interesting, and will also keep you from using the same muscles over and over.
Another method to stay motivated is to exercise with others. Play a team sport, work-out with a friend—just do anything you can think of to make yourself get out there. Some people encourage themselves by putting a star on a calendar for a “reward.” Others treat themselves to a massage or a manicure when they reach a goal. The important thing is to find something that works for you, and don’t stop!
When you do build up to vigorous exercise, spend a few minutes to warm up and cool down before and after each workout. The muscles need this time to get ready and then relax from strenuous exercise. And it is not recommended to exercise arduously every day of the week. Your body needs time to rest, repair, and rebuild. If you don’t allow it to rest, you can injure yourself. Pay attention to how your body responds to different activities and different amounts of exercise, and adjust your routine accordingly. As the amount of exercise increases, the amount of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients needed to support the body will also increase.
Exercise is truly a lifelong commitment to health. Once you begin and find the things you enjoy, you will find that you cannot live without it!