How Exercise Helps Prevent Chronic Disease

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When combined, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. For this reason, health experts regularly study how exercise can lower the risk of developing chronic problems. Findings show  that exercise is one of the best ways to manage and prevent chronic diseases. Conditions like heart disease, diabesity, depression, anxiety, cancer, and much more can be managed and even reversed with proper exercise.

If you look at risk factors and symptoms of various chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, persistent pain, and inflammation, there is a tremendous value to increasing fitness levels and physical activity.

For instance, aerobic exercise can help prevent heart disease. And if you have already developed heart problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, a moderate increase in activity can help prevent those problems from causing more serious conditions like heart attack or stroke.

Strength training builds muscle and promotes healthy joints as you age. This type of exercise also helps decrease arthritis pain and can improve glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes.

Physical Activity is a Wonder Drug

Exercise has many effects. Exercise can improve your sleep and brain function; develop or maintain bone, muscle, heart, and other connective tissues; and promote a healthy immune system.

When it comes to the brain, exercise promotes the protection of neurons, improves recovery from injury, and possibly enhances the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is the group of blood vessels that controls what makes it into the brain, ensuring toxins and pathogens stay out and the good stuff gets in.

There isn’t a condition out there that regular exercise, of any level, can’t help. We hear a lot of talk about how exercise can help you achieve the body you want, but the fact that a major function of exercise is to maintain and improve our overall health is often overlooked.

Here’s how exercise can improve management and symptom relief for several chronic health conditions. A piece of important advice: If you have any symptoms or chronic health condition, remember to check with your doctor prior to starting a new exercise routine to avoid the possibility of causing further damage.

Reverse Obesity and Its Effects

One of the first steps you can take to prevent some of the effects of obesity, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, is to simply move. Getting up and moving more isn’t necessarily about getting thin or getting abs, but about being and staying healthy. Even a small increase in activity, like walking or riding a bicycle, can get you closer to a healthier weight.

Carrying extra weight can have many ill effects, including cancer. Exercise can help prevent weight-associated cancers, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.

Decrease Fibromyalgia Pain

If you are living with fibromyalgia, you may experience intense chronic pain all over your body, fatigue, headaches, problems sleeping, and depression.

If you are dealing with the constant, at times debilitating,  pain, exercise could be a way to make you feel better. Aerobic exercises, strength-training, stretching, and balance training all have been shown to help reduce the pain and disability associated with the condition.

Qigong, a traditional Chinese system of exercises and breathing, has demonstrated a reduction in chronic pain as well as improvements in physical and mental health.

Manage Blood Sugar Levels

For those who have diabetes, regular exercise is an important lifestyle change that can help manage the condition and stop further complications.

Regular physical activity improves insulin sensitivity, or the ability of insulin to do its job to lower your blood sugar levels. It can also help lower your weight. Improvements with these also help prevent other problems that are closely linked to diabetes, such as hypertension, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Reduce Heart Disease Symptoms

Regular exercise and physical activity can play a major role in fighting heart disease.

Research has shown that incorporating some form of fitness routine in your daily life can help reduce heart disease symptoms, improve blood flow in the heart, and reduce mortality.  Increased oxygen circulation that comes from exercises that improve blood flow helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries that lead to arterial disease complications.

If the gym is not your thing or sounds like a torture device, try going for a walk, riding a bike, or doing simple aerobic exercises in your living room.

Again, another reminder: Do not jump in to an exercise routine too quickly with too much intensity. If you already have symptoms of heart disease, check with your doctor. If you have heart disease and start experiencing dizziness, unusual shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, or chest pains, listen to your body and take a break, then let your doctor know about unusual symptoms. If you already have heart disease, an exercise routine may do more harm than good and may not be safe.

Promotes Healthy Aging

Exercise is not only good for bodies with chronic conditions, it’s good for ALL bodies. Physical fitness can actually help slow the aging process.

High intensity aerobic exercise may be able to reverse some of the signs of aging at the cellular level. High intensity aerobic workouts improve lung function and the mitochondrial function for skeletal muscles, stopping the functional decline of the mitochondria due to inactivity and muscle loss.

It’s important for us all to stay active as we get older.

Exercise and remaining physically active is your best defense against aging. It helps you to continue to do things that you might have taken for granted before. Getting regular exercise helps you enjoy more in your life.