There are so many blogs, YouTube tutorials, and magazine articles about how to exercise to get a certain body type or look, that often times people overlook the fact that a huge function of exercise is to maintain and improve our overall health. “Exercise is seen as ‘pleiotropic,’ simply meaning that it has many effects,” states Shawn Flanagan, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of sports medicine and nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh. Exercising regularly protects and improves brain function, promotes a healthy immune system, enhances sleep, allows wounds to heal faster, and helps develop or maintain bone, muscle, heart and other connective tissues. Staying physically active is also linked to healthier aging, and it doesn’t stop there. Exercise is one of the top things you can do to lower your risk of developing a chronic disease, and it helps control current symptoms.
Exercise and Chronic Diseases
When all put together, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. As of 2014, 60 percent of Americans have at least one chronic condition, and 42 percent have multiple chronic conditions. Luckily, Scott Parker, personal trainer and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, states that there isn’t really a condition out there that “fitness can’t help.” Listed below are ways exercise can help with chronic disease:
- Physical activity plays a big role in fighting heart disease. The increased oxygen circulation that comes from exercise improve blood flow and prevents the kind of plaque buildup in the arteries that leads to CAD complications, according to this study published in the Journal of The American Heart Association.
- “Most people don’t see obesity as a chronic disease, but it is,” Parker says. Regular exercise can reverse obesity and the effects of carrying extra weight, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
- For those with type 2 diabetes, physical activity is an important lifestyle intervention that can help manage the condition and stop further complications from it. That is because exercise improves the ability of the insulin hormone to do its job to lower your blood sugar levels, giving you better glucose control and improved insulin sensitivity.
- Aerobic exercises, strength-training, stretching, and balance training have also been shown to help reduce the pain and disability associated with fibromyalgia.
The main goal should be for everyone to be more active. Even a small increase in activity is a good start to improving your overall health and preventing chronic diseases.Start with walking a few miles a day, taking the stairs, or going for a bike ride, and then increase from there! Just be sure to check with your doctor to make sure the intensity and frequency of your workouts are appropriate. To learn more, visit Everyday Health!