Exercise your way to better health

 

We all know the importance of keeping fit and active, but did you know that maintaining fitness and strength is also an essential part of managing some medical conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis and depression? Symptoms can be minimised by incorporating cardio, strength and resistance activities into your daily life and whether you get fit indoors or outdoors, there is no doubt that exercise is a major element of good health. 

Remember to always consult your physician before beginning any exercise programme. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional.

Build up your strength

Those with osteoporosis should choose weight-bearing and strengthening exercises to build and maintain bone density. Depending on your fitness level, ability and medical history, high or low impact activities can achieve good results. High impact includes dancing, aerobics, hiking, jogging, stair climbing and tennis. Low impact includes using the elliptical machines at the gym or the treadmill and step-machines. 

Strengthening or resistance training can include lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands, weight machines or push-ups, lunges and tricep dips. Yoga and Pilates can also improve strength, balance and flexibility.

Stay active

When you’re in pain from inflammation it’s not always comfortable to keep fit. Many people believe exercise will damage their joints, but in fact staying active will keep joints supple, ease stiffness, improve joint movement, strengthen muscles and reduce pain. 

Gymnasiums are an excellent place to start for those who aren’t sure where to begin. Water workouts are gentle and there is also stationary and recumbent cycling equipment at most gyms and leisure centres. Yoga and tai chi are also gentle on the joints and will improve flexibility and balance. Resistance training, contrary to popular belief is another essential activity for arthritis sufferers.

Stimulate those happy chemicals 

Researchers report that physically active people enjoy greater feelings of excitement and enthusiasm than less-active people. Exercise can reduce stress and help you sleep better and it stimulates the release of many chemicals thought to be in low supply for those battling depression. Evidence shows that working up a sweat is the best way to stimulate those happy-chemicals and increase the synthesis of new neurons. 

Running or jogging is a great way to get aerobic, cardio exercise and stimulate the release of endorphins - the body’s natural morphine and feel-good hormone. Running for 20-30 minutes most days is thought to help fight the symptoms of depression. 

Strength training is another way to get the heart pumping. Requiring attention, control and plenty of sweat, it’s a great way to turn your thoughts outward. Walking is also an effective way to get active. In the dark, winter months many become susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to a lack of Vitamin D we normally get from sunshine, so be sure to take it outdoors a couple of times a week.

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