When we were younger, getting sufficient physical activity just came with being a kid. We played outside with friends, ran around during recess, participated in organized sports, and attended physical education classes. But as we age, we tend to become less physically active, only exercising at prescheduled times for a run, at the gym, or on a stationary bike at home—if at all. Unfortunately, the average adult becomes less active as they age, just when they probably need exercise the most to stay both mentally and physically healthy. In addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, keeping up energy levels, and looking and feeling better, exercise can also help in managing several chronic health conditions.
- HEART DISEASE: Aerobic exercise can improve heart muscle strength and endurance as well as aiding in weight loss and lowering blood pressure.
- DIABETES: Regular exercise can help insulin more effectively lower blood sugar levels, control weight, and boost energy.
- ASTHMA: Exercise has been reported to stabilize asthma by reducing the frequency and severity of attacks.
- BACK PAIN: Regular low-impact aerobic exercise increases the strength and endurance of the deep spinal muscles that help maintain an upright posture. In addition, the compressive forces on the spine from running or walking help to draw nutrients into the spinal disks, keeping them hydrated and healthy.
- ARTHRITIS: In general, exercise of all types can reduce arthritis-generated pain and improve joint mobility.
- CANCER: Several studies show that engaging in exercise while undergoing cancer treatment may reduce fatigue and improve outcomes.
- PARKINSON’S DISEASE: Tai Chi, boxing (without head contact), and dancing have been reported to reduce both the physical and cognitive impairments associated with Parkinson’s disease.
- DEMENTIA: Researchers have observed that engaging in exercise can improve blood flow to the brain, which can provide cognitive benefits. It’s also suggested that exercise may slow cognitive decline and even keep mild-cognitive impairment from progressing to dementia.
Of course, consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program to assess your current fitness level and to identify any issues that may indicate a different form of physical activity may work better for your unique situation. If you have aches and pains, your doctor of chiropractic can also provide treatment to help restore normal joint motion and show you stretches you can do at home before and after your workout to reduce the risk of injury as you engage in a new fitness routine.