Exercise could help with six chronic health conditions - from high cholesterol to diabetes
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Furthermore, medical experts also emphasise the importance of physical movement in managing and improving the quality of life of those already suffering from such conditions, with the potential outcome of reversing some of the symptoms experienced. Emma Bord, (www.emmabordpt.com), personal trainer and fitness specialist, advised: “There are a huge range of chronic illnesses that affect people in various ways but working through a varied programme involving strength work, heart raising activity, flexibility exercises and balance training, can all help make daily life more comfortable and manageable.”

Bord listed the six chronic illnesses exercise can have a positive effect on:

1. Easing anxiety

Taking part in an exercise routine can play a huge role in reducing anxiety as well as improving one’s quality of life, said Bord.

“Anything from a brisk walk, to a bike ride, or a group dance class can successfully divert your attention from the very thing you are worried about, allowing the opportunity to gain perspective and a clearer mindset even just for a short time.

“In addition, raising your heart rate through cardiovascular activity changes brain chemistry, releasing feel good endorphins that enhance a sense of well- being and act as natural painkillers. Furthermore, studies have found that exercises decrease overall levels of tension whilst improving sleep quality which in turn reduces stress.

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“So, in many ways one could equate exercise to medication like insulin – both working to balance out the sugar levels of the body, keeping the condition under control.”

3. Reducing high blood pressure

For those who have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, regular physical activity can bring these levels safely down, said Bord.

“This is because exercise can make the heart stronger, which in turn pumps more blood with less effort and subsequently decreases the effort on the arteries, lowering blood pressure.

“In addition, being more active helps to maintain a healthy weight and this is another important way to control blood pressure. Aerobic activity is a great choice here, such as jogging, swimming, dancing or cycling: any exercise that gets the heart and breathing rates up; and making this part of everyday life will have a hugely positive effect on keeping blood pressure in check.”

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4. Improving osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to thin and weaken.

Bord said: “One may think that exercise would be detrimental to this condition, that it could lead to fractures for example. However choosing the right exercises such as strength training, can help to build strong bones, to slow bone loss and to increase muscle strength around the bones.

“Furthermore, specific strength and flexibility exercises can help improve stability and balance which will further help to maintain a mobile body and reduce the risk of falls and injuries.”

5. Arthritis management

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint and can be very painful.

Bord said: “Keeping physically active in the right way can not only help manage the pain that this condition causes through the release of endorphins (natural pain relief), but actually increase the strength of the muscles around the affected area making movement easier. Staying physically active and working on strength will also improve balance and flexibility, reducing stiffness and easing the stress and pressure on joints.”

6. Reducing cholesterol

Cholesterol is one of the fatty substances we have circulating in our blood. If we have too much, it can end up sticking to the inside walls of our arteries, narrowing them and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Bord said: “Exercise can play a huge part in reducing cholesterol as it increases the level of HDL – the good type of cholesterol in our bodies, whilst stopping the spread of LDL (the bad type of cholesterol). In simple terms, physical activity is hugely beneficial to anyone with high cholesterol to help get rid of the bad and increase the good.

“It is always important to consult a health care provider before starting an exercise programme to ensure you are moving safely and most effectively for you. Whilst there may be some fear associated when embarking on a fitness journey with any condition, it really is evident that physically moving your body has so many benefits, mentally and physically, in both managing pain and potentially relieving symptoms.”

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