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Exercise and sickness

Exercise is not just for healthy people. Although there are some people with medical disorders for whom exercise is not recommended, in most cases it is important to stay as active as possible. People who think of themselves as invalids and don’t perform any exercise are likely to have greater problems; they may experience a steady deterioration in their health. If you have a medical problem and want to start an exercise program, you should first consult your doctor and discuss the type of activities that is safe for you.

Regular exercise can actually ease or slow the progression of certain disorders or conditions, reducing your risk of complications and helping  you remain more mobile and independent. Here are some useful  information about exercising if you have one of a variety of common medical conditions. This is taken from the American Medical Association publication headed by medical editor, Dr. Charles B. Clayman.

Running enthusiast Abby Ponce on her daily exercise routine (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Running enthusiast Abby Ponce on her daily exercise routine (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Back pain
A recent study showed that people with chronic recurrent back pain who participate in some form of regular exercise manage the pain better than those who remain inactive. Before you decide to do any particular type of exercise, consult your doctor about the cause of your back pain. If you have osteoporosis or problems with vertebral discs, a doctor should guide you in your exercise program. But much back pain is caused by muscle spasms and does not have a specific cause. Swimming  may be the best type of exercise for anyone with back pain. When you swim the breaststroke, you should be sure you put your face in the water every few strokes. If you keep your head  out of the water all the time, you will be arching your lower back, and that movement, by stretching the spinal  ligaments, is likely to aggravate your back pain.

If you are a jogger with chronic or recurrent back pain, avoid hard surfaces and wear cushioned insoles to reduce the amount of jarring through the spine each time your feet strike the ground. If you have back or disc problems, it is also important to take extra care when you do any strength exercises that involve lifting weights. Use an exercise mat for any floor exercises that you do, and always keep your knees bent (not straight) during a sit-up routine to reduce the chances of injury  to your lower back.

Arthritis
Exercise is good for most people with arthritis because it helps keep the joints mobile and the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments strong. You will know if you are doing too much exercise or the wrong type if any of your joints become stiffer, more painful or more swollen. Swimming and cycling are more suitable than running if you have arthritis, because these activities do not involve putting your full weight on the joints of your hips, knees, ankles and feet.

High blood pressure
Regular aerobic activities are usually recommended for people with hypertension. Exercise can help you reduce your blood pressure.  There is a controversy, however, over whether anyone with high blood pressure should avoid the strain of isometric strength training and lifting heavy weights. Some drugs (known as beta blockers) that are used to lower blood pressure suppress the response of the heart to strenuous exercise. If you are taking a beta blocker remember that you will not be able to accurately gauge your condition during exertion  by checking your pulse.

Diabetes
Regular daily exercise is important  for the control of diabetes and may help reduce the dose of insulin or the dose of oral medication taken by people  who are not dependent on insulin. If you are a diabetic taking medication, you need to increase your intake of carbohydrates before you exercise. Check with your doctor on how to adjust your diet and medication in relation to regular physical activity. All diabetics should carry a supply of sugar or candy in case exercise induces hypoglycemia, a sudden drop in blood sugar that may cause dizziness, sweating, nausea or a loss of concentration. If you don’t quickly eat or drink some sweet food or liquid, you may collapse and loss consciousness.

Stroke
A  program of exercises after a stroke can help the patient regain the use of muscles and joints and restore independence and mobility. Depending on the degree of paralysis from the stroke, these exercises may include passive movements, in which someone physically moves your arms and legs for you, or active movements that you initiate yourself. You may also spend time in a heated swimming pool, where you will find each movement easier to perform because the water supports the weight of your body. If you recover enough to be able to stand and take a few steps, you will learn to walk again at first with assistance and then using a walker or cane. The more active you are, the better your prospects are for rehabilitation to an independent lifestyle.

Peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease is a condition in which the blood flow through the arteries, primarily in the legs, is impaired. As a result, the muscles are deprived of oxygen during exercise, causing cramps. Exertion causes pain in the muscles of your legs that becomes more severe, until you have to stop moving and rest for a few moments. After a short rest, you may be able to continue moving or walking. Recent studies have shown that people with this condition who try to exercise regularly despite pain are able to steadily increase the distance they can walk, but those who rest as soon as the discomfort begins are more likely to have serious problems.

Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes shaking, weakness, and stiffness. These symptoms gradually become more severe the longer you have this disease. It is important for anyone with Parkinson’s disease to remain as active as possible, perhaps by walking or doing some light housework. Regular warm-up exercises that get the muscles working and keep the joints moving may improve your posture and help you stay independent and mobile. Even in severe cases, when you are no longer able to move around without assistance, passive exercises, in which someone else moves different parts of your body for you, can help minimize muscle weakness and joint stiffness.

TAGS: Arthritis, back pain, diabetes, disorders, exercise, exercise for certain disorders and conditions, health, stroke
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