Your Doctor

How Exercise Can Help Fight Medical Conditions

Evidence of the benefits of exercising is overwhelming these days. With most medical conditions, it is still important that you continue to exercise but it is essential that you do exercises that are appropriate to you; remember even walking, stretching or housework helps. To follow are ten suggestions of how to use exercise to feel better, but make sure that you first get advice from your GP if you have any injuries or illnesses.

1. Depression - The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that people with mild to moderate depression do 45 minutes to one hour of exercise three times a week. Exercise helps release feel positive brain chemicals including neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids. Increases body temperature which may have a calming effect, helps us gain confidence, takes our mind off our worries and encourages social interaction and a way of coping healthily.

2. Dementia - To help reduce the symptoms of dementia, activity such gentle gardening helps to keep us strong and gives sufferers some independence back which may have been lost. 

3. Diabetes - To lower your risk of diabetes, Reducing weight by trying swimming or a water aerobics class can help to keep blood glucose well controlled and blood pressure on target and improve blood circulation. 

4. Cancer – One in every two people will be affected by cancer but the survival rate has doubled over the past 40 years. Exercising can help prevent cancer but can also reduce the side effects of treatment, decrease the risk of re-occurring cancer and can enhance quality of life during and after cancer treatments

5. Osteoporosis - It’s important to keep your joints moving and to do strengthening exercises such as walking, swimming and cycling. Exercising can increase bone mineral density which helps to maintain strong bones. From your twenties onwards you can help prevent bone loss by exercising regularly (women are particularly at risk after the menopause). 

6. Heart Disease - Those suffering from heart disease should take it easy and not do any exercise that causes pain or dizziness. but make sure you warm-up and cool-down before any form of light workout to avoid feeling lightheaded. 

7. Stroke - As recovery improves, repetitive tasks like stretching and gripping movements can encourage normal function. Ask your specialist or GP for guidance.

8. Back Pain - Your back may be strained from sitting down too much. Make sure you get up from your chair and move around every 45 minutes. Any form of suitable exercise will send endorphins to the problem area and help to promote pain relief, but don’t do anything that makes your symptoms feel worse.

9. Stress - To alleviate stress, if appropriate try a vigorous activity such as fast skipping or kick boxing. Exercise reduces cortisol and norepinephrine associated with stress. At the same time endorphins that are responsible for the feeling of elation and positive well-being are released, as are dopamine and serotonin which give a feeling of safety and security that may offset feelings of anxiety and negative self-talk.

10. Gut troubles - Don’t overdo it in the gym. Light to moderate activity is best as vigorous exercise can aggravate symptoms - try swimming, Pilates or yoga.