Regular exercise has a multitude of benefits, from weight management to stress relief. But did you know that exercise can be one of the best ways to manage chronic disease and conditions? According to the extensive 2018 report by Exercise is Medicine, any bout of activity, including light activity, has health benefits. However, over 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for weekly aerobic and strength training exercise, and only 1 in 3 children are physically active each day (RxResource).

A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way

Consistent exercise can help prevent the occurrence of disease and health conditions, especially when a habit begins at a young age. Regular physical activity has been proven to lower the risk of developing cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, and heart disease. It has also been found to help with mental health by preventing bouts of depression and anxiety (Exercise is Medicine). In older adults, it can even help prevent falls and improve overall physical function. All these preventions can positively impact our quality of life.

Managing Diseases and Conditions with Exercise

While exercise might not be a miracle cure, it goes hand in hand with treatment to successfully manage a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Consistent physical activity has been found to help lower the mortality rate after a cancer diagnosis and has even helped increase chemotherapy completion rates. Exercise also reduces blood pressure, manages diabetes and heart disease, and even lowers pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis. For a more exhaustive list of health benefits that exercise can help manage, check out The Power of Physical Activity by Exercise is Medicine.

What Are the Recommendations?

Now that we’ve reviewed the impact exercise has on our health, you might be wondering what weekly recommendations are. The Department of Health and Human Services and the American College of Sports Medicine have researched and set recommendations for all children and adults. The guidelines for healthy adults and adults with chronic health conditions encourage 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. This is along with muscle strengthening exercises involving all major muscle groups at least two days per week. However, if you are just beginning, it is more important to start slow, then gradually increase the duration. The intensity levels will vary based on each individual. Remember, the main goal is to avoid inactivity.

Get the Green Light from Your Doctor First

Anytime you are starting a new exercise routine, or if it has been a while since you’ve exercised regularly, it is important to have a conversation with your doctor first. You’ll want to get clearance for exercise and discuss any special considerations or adaptations you might want to make to your workout routine. Heeding your doctor’s advice can help you get the most of your exercise and will help you avoid unnecessary injuries or setbacks.

If managing your current condition or preventing unwanted health problems is important to you then regular physical activity should be at the top of your priority list. Whether you’re in a gym or taking a walk in your local park, find ways to include movement in each day.

Always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program.

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Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP