“Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
Hello! Dr. Troy here!
The health benefits of regular exercise are quite plentiful and well-known.
Increasing muscle mass through exercise increases metabolism, which makes maintaining a healthy weight easier to maintain. Regular exercise also helps increase bone density to help prevent or even reverse osteoporosis.
Physical activity helps regulate a variety of essential hormones, including cortisol (stress/sleep), insulin (blood sugar), leptin & ghrelin (hunger), and melatonin (sleep). It improves both cardio-vascular, joint health, muscle health, and can be an excellent mood booster due to the release of several neurotransmitters.
Another huge benefit, especially to those with autoimmune issues, is that exercise promotes the flow of lymph. Your lymphatic system is a network of vessels and “nodes” that move fluids through your body, which is essential for proper detoxification and immune functions. Unlike your cardiovascular system, your lymphatic system does not have a pump, and therefore, it relies on the movement of your muscles and joints to help it do its job.
Getting enough movement into daily life is a challenge for many people. Some of the more common barriers are lack of time, boredom with exercise routine, lack of motivation, and being intimidated and just not sure where to start.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are not getting the recommended amount of exercise into their weeks, below are a few tips to help you overcome your barriers and start adding some more movement into your day.
How to find an exercise routine you can stick with:
- Find something you enjoy: It’s hard to get motivated to do something you don’t enjoy doing. I’m a firm believer there’s something out there for everyone. Maybe it’s group classes, yoga, riding your bike, walking, hiking, tai chi…the list is endless!
- Find a buddy: Exercising with a partner is often more fun! You’ll also be less likely to cancel on your workout when this means cancelling on a friend. It’s awesome when you find someone who enjoys the same activities so you can hold each other responsible for working out.
- Start slow: Have you ever heard that saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”? If you’re just beginning, don’t overdo it. Start with just a couple of days a week. Once this has become a habit and you’re feeling stronger, add in another day or two. This will lead to consistency and will help you make a lasting change to a more active lifestyle.
- Enroll in a class: Classes are great, especially for those with commitment to movement issues. They help motivate you to prioritize exercise into your day. In addition, it’s fun for many people to exercise with others and the time often flies by!
- Get help from an expert: Help from a personal trainer can help ease you past the fear of the unknown. A trainer will also teach proper form to help you reduce the risk of injury and to help you gain confidence as you become stronger. Believe me, it’s $$ well spent!
- Switch it up: While having a weekly routine that often helps exercise become more of a habit is great, it can help to switch it up once in a while to avoid getting bored and quitting altogether.
- Have a backup plan: If your workout for the day is walking outside and the weather turns bad, it can be easy to blow off the activity for the day. Instead, have a backup plan for an activity you can do indoors in case weather conditions are not favorable.
While all of these are great ideas for committing to an exercise program, I know first-hand that those suffering from autoimmune disease or chronic digestive issues often experience even more complex barriers to getting enough exercise to support good health.
Joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, and exhaustion are all common symptoms of autoimmune disease and can make exercise difficult. Those who suffer from chronic issues may also have an even greater lack of motivation that can make it a real struggle to get moving.
In next week’s post, I’ll provide some helpful tips and exercise ideas for those living with chronic illness…