In an earlier blog, we looked at the general benefits of physical activity for chronic conditions and how a personal trainer or fitness instructor can help clients with ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and mental health challenges to enjoy a better quality of life.
It’s well accepted that exercise can help those with chronic conditions live a more independent life, with improved long-term health and better psychological wellbeing.
In this blog we are examining the specific benefits of exercise on a range of chronic conditions.
A serious metabolic disease characterised by high blood glucose levels, diabetes is associated with coronary heart disease (50% of diabetics die from CHD), hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia and obesity.
How exercise can help – exercise can prevent the onset of diabetes and reduce the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, in part through weight management. For those with the disease it can improve insulin sensitivity and help to control blood sugar levels.
A chronic disease with no cure, hypertension is characterised by high blood pressure. People with hypertension have an increased risk of suffering cardiovascular disease and stroke.
How exercise can help – keeping active lowers blood pressure and mitigates against blood pressure increases due to age. Exercise also helps individuals to lose weight and manage stress – both of which can contribute towards developing hypertension.
A condition defined by high cholesterol in the blood, which can block your blood vessels, hypercholesterolaemia puts you at greater risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.
How exercise can help – physical activity can help to prevent hypercholesterolaemia, lowering your LDL (low density lipoproteins) levels along with your overall levels of cholesterol.
Low back pain
A common condition experienced by around 80% of people at some point in life, low back pain is often caused by a strain or other injury, although medical treatment should be sought if it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
How exercise can help – exercise can prevent lower back pain by strengthening the muscles and flexibility of the back and reducing stress and tension; it can also stop it recurring. Gentle movement prescribed by a fitness professional can help rehabilitate those experiencing lower back pain.
Mental health conditions
Issues with mental health affect mood and behaviour, with around one in six people affected at any one time. They include conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD and eating disorders.
How exercise can help – physical activity can reduce stress, provide a distraction from worries and promote wellbeing, as well as reducing isolation through the social aspect of group exercise. It can also help with mental health issues that arise from obesity or other health issues by alleviating the original problem.
A life-threatening condition with complex causes, obesity is classed as a BMI of 30 or more. It’s a contributing factor in coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia and some cancers.
How exercise can help – exercise can help to prevent obesity and aid management of weight by expending calories. It increases your resting metabolic rate and reduces body fat.
The most common disease relating to the joints, osteoarthritis is experienced by most people over 60.
How exercise can help – keeping active strengthens your joints, muscles and cartilage, improves flexibility and reduces pain, all of which can help prevent or relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis. Exercise is also a mood enhancer.
A serious condition that causes weakness in the bones due to peak bone mass and bone loss, osteoporosis can lead to bone fractures.
How exercise can help – exercise before the age of 30 will aid the development of bone strength that will help you in later years, particularly helpful for women going through the menopause, when bone loss is experienced. After diagnosis, exercise can help with strength, co-ordination and balance, to reduce the risk of falls and bone fracture. Activity should be supervised by a fitness professional to avoid injury.