Regular exercise is one of the best prescriptions I can give. For anyone with chronic pain, depression, or any chronic disease, here’s one of the most effective ways to heal: get sweaty.
Exercise is a miracle treatment. Almost nothing else has so many pluses. It helps you look good, boosts your cardiovascular health, and increases your energy levels. Exercise also makes you happier. It also raises the level of your natural painkillers called endorphins, reduces body inflammation and insulin resistance, and normalizes blood sugar. That’s a long list and we’re not even close to listing all its benefits.
Here’s even more good news: when you exercise regularly, your muscles change in a long-lasting way. Even after a long period of inactivity, previously strengthened muscles will get back in shape with much less training than it would take for muscles that were never in shape.
How Much Exercise?
I recommend at least thirty to forty-five minutes of aerobic exercise, four or five times per week. That’s some of the best thirty to forty-five minutes you can spend for your health.
What Kind of Exercise?
The best kind of exercise is the kind that you’ll happily do on a regular basis.
Walking is an excellent exercise and requires no equipment. Many of my patients also enjoy yoga. Don’t be intimidated by experienced yogis who can twist themselves into pretzels. Introducing your body to yoga is more important than the actual pose you reach.
Aqua jogging is also an excellent form of exercise, even for high-level athletes. In water, buoyancy makes our bodies feel lighter and allows us freer movement. Being water is ideal especially for those with joint pain. I also recommend tai chi or qi gong. They both incorporate stretch and strength exercises along with meditation, exercise for the mind.
Does it Hurt? That Might be Good.
Sometimes people in pain are fearful of moving their bodies. Without movement, however, you will not get better. It is important to understand the difference between hurt and harm. Hurt is pain that is not causing damage to your tissues. Harm is pain that signals damage. If you have a sore back and move around, you may experience additional pain. In most cases that pain is not causing damage. In the long run that pain will help you heal. You need to work with a professional, such as a physical therapist, who will guide you in your activity.
Chew on this
Go out for some exercise today. Take a walk around the block. Sign up for a pilates class. Play some tennis. Whatever you enjoy, do it. Look forward to feeling and looking good.