For a lot of people suffering from a chronic medical condition, exercise is probably the last thing on their mind. This is quite understandable considering that many with chronic illness are dealing with pain, fatigue, depression and low mood all the time.
A chronic illness can adversely affect a person’s day to day activities like running errands, doing household chores, or even something as simple as getting dressed. Those with chronic illness often have to regularly see their doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Examples of chronic health issues are:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Autoimmune Disease
- Heart Disease
A chronic illness pertains to a health condition that lasts for at least one year. There are often obvious symptoms but there are also symptoms that are invisible to the eye but are just as difficult, such as pain, mood changes and fatigue.
Exercising with Chronic Illness
Simple tasks are already challenging for many people with chronic conditions. Exercise would be even more difficult. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t exercise. In fact, doctors recommend that you do because exercise offers quite a few benefits. It can improve the symptoms of your condition by releasing endorphins which will help you feel better, it also boosts the immune system, enhance blood circulation, reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure.
But it’s essential to know your limits. That means if you are dealing with a flare-up, then you need to do light exercises such as gentle yoga at YogaWorks or even just walking your dog.
Here are other things you need to consider:
Know your fitness level. Anyone, especially people with chronic illness, should be aware of their current fitness level before trying an exercise program. You may want to consult with your doctor or a fitness coach regarding this.
Start slow. It’s likely that you will get fatigued quickly or may even become dizzy and confused during exercise at the beginning. Don’t push yourself too hard and instead gradually ease into the exercise as you develop endurance and strength.
Be ready for unwanted surprises. Because you have a chronic condition, your mood and energy can be unpredictable. Take a flexible approach to your workouts so that on days you feel like you have no energy at all, then you can do gentle stretching instead of your usual Pilates session.
Find out what works for you. It can be hard to navigate a routine when your whole body hurts all the time. But it’s possible. Focus on workouts that reduce pain and are enjoyable to do. Avoid or reduce the frequency of difficult exercises.
If you have been living with a chronic illness, talk to a health care practitioner to find out if exercising is safe and beneficial for you. If you’ve been given the go-ahead, the next step is to consult with a certified fitness professional who can create a customized program to help you live an active and healthy lifestyle.
If you have chronic back pain, try this Pilates workout: