Exercise benefits every cell in your body. And healthy exercise helps those with chronic illness to heal faster. How does exercise accomplish this phenomenal task?
We all have waste products in our cells. In order to be healthy, we must remove this waste. So, your cells deposit their waste into the surrounding lymphatic fluid. When we exercise, our muscles contract to pump the waste through the lymphatic channels and then into the blood stream. Then, the waste leaves our bodies through our kidneys or through our livers and then our bowels. Our cells are happy!
Also, our cells need nutrition and oxygen. Exercise brings nutrients and oxygen to our cells much faster. Our cells are very happy - and healthy!
Without exercise, our cells would be bathed in their own waste products. They would be unable to deposit any more waste in the clogged up lymphatic fluid. The waste would accumulate in our cells and eventually make our cells malfunction. Our cells are sad!
Also, without exercise, nutrients and oxygen would not be able to travel through the clogged up lymphatic fluid. Our cells would starve in this anaerobic (without air) environment. Our cells are very sad - and sick!
In addition, exercise improves the condition of our entire cardiovascular system. In particular, the heart muscle gets stronger and more efficient. Blood pressure normalizes. Resting heart rate decreases.
Since the brain is more oxygenated, we will be able to concentrate and think much better.
We will have less risk of cancer. Cancer cells need an anaerobic environment to grow and multiply. Instead, exercise creates an aerobic environment.
We will actually gain more energy and stamina, too!
Endorphins are released when we exercise which makes us feel good. Therefore, we will experience an improved sense of well-being.
Exercise helps to alleviate the effects of excessive stress, and to provide high quality sleep. Thus, we will experience less anxiety and depression.
Exercise helps with weight management by burning fat and increasing muscle tone and strength. More muscle requires more energy, and therefore our basal metabolic rate (BMR) increases. A higher basal metabolic rate burns more fat!
Weight-bearing exercise in particular increases bone density and decreases osteoporosis.
In addition, exercise assists with better coordination, trunk stability, flexibility, balance and posture. Neurological connections are also strengthened.
If you have chronic illness, you may be thinking that there is no way that you can exercise. Getting out of bed may be hard enough!
First, what exercise can you do?
Most people can walk. Walking has some terrific exercise benefits. You are less likely to become injured. You just need a decent pair of shoes. And walking in mostly available somewhere year round - outside, inside, health club, mall. The trick is to only walk as far and as fast as tolerated. If you are too sore or too fatigued the next day, then you did too much and you should cut back. Some days you may be able to walk further or faster. Just listen to your body.
A mini-trampoline is also simple and easy. You just need to gently bounce in order to obtain exercise benefits. Bouncing really clears the lymphatic system!
Stretching and core training are valuable exercises, too. Pilates and ballet classes incorporate these fitness techniques. If you are near Cincinnati, check out the adaptive ballet classes and stretch n strength classes at AbunDANCE Ballet & Worship Arts. These classes are specifically designed for those with illnesses, such as Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Second, what type of exercise do you like to do?
Any exercise or sport can be adapted to work for someone with chronic disease. You just may need to be creative. Exercise should be fun, and it is more fun if you like it!
Perhaps you love biking. But if you have a racer bike and you can not bend over for long periods, then you will want to invest in a more comfortable style. For example, Dr. Richey rides a Townie. It may not look cool, but it works well!
Third, what type of exercise will you do consistently?
You may love swimming. But if you cannot get to a pool, then you need to choose something else.
The frequency of your exercise should be at least 3 times per week for cardiovascular improvement or at least 5 times per week for weight loss.
The intensity of your workout should be just strenuous enough that it is impossible to sing, but it is possible to carry on a conversation.
The duration of your exercise should be at least 20 minutes for cardiovascular improvement or at least 30-45 minutes for weight loss.
All exercise plans should start slowly and gradually increase as tolerated in order to minimize sore muscles and excessive fatigue. Again, listen to your body.
An exercise journal is an excellent way to monitor progress and to improve motivation. These days, there are lots of heart rate monitors and daily step calculators available to help with your exercise program.