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Chronic Disease Relief

Exercise for Chronic Disease Relief

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For people in need of chronic disease relief, exercise can decrease discomfort, improve daily functioning, and enhance overall quality of life. There are many activity choices. Overall, find something that you enjoy doing and a place that is comfortable for you to do it in. Although being physically active is good for anyone, some exercises provide specific benefits. Here is how different types of exercise can help people with specific chronic diseases.

CHRONIC DISEASE RELIEF : TYPES OF EXERCISE
There are 3 basic categories of exercise:

Aerobic Exercise
These are exercises that raise your heart rate through repetitive movement of large muscles groups. The 2 types of aerobic exercise are:

  • Weightbearing exercise —Your muscles work against the force of gravity. Examples include jogging, walking, and dancing.
  • Non-weightbearing exercise —The force of gravity does not play a major role. Examples include biking, swimming, and rowing.

Strength Training Exercise
These are exercises that increase the power, tone, and efficiency of individual muscles by contracting isolated muscles against resistance. An example is lifting weights. The increase in heart rate is short-lived compared to aerobic exercise.

Stretching

These are exercises that improve or maintain the flexibility of your muscles. Good flexibility is important to keeping a full range of motion and decreasing your chances of injury. Ideally, you should stretch after each exercise session.

DISEASE IMPACT
Overall, all 3 types of exercises are important in a chronic disease relief program. However, the list below demonstrates how a certain types of exercise can directly impact your specific health condition.

Heart Disease
Researchers and healthcare professionals have found that regular exercise reduces the risk of having a heart attack, particularly for people with coronary artery disease (CAD).

Specific benefits of exercise for people with heart disease include:

  • Stronger heart muscle
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Reduced plaque build-up inside the arteries
  • Better weight and blood pressure control

Type of exercise that can reduce risk of heart disease and heart attack: Aerobic

High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in cells throughout your body. Although it tends to get a bad rap, cholesterol is actually essential for life. It only contributes to heart disease when you have too much of certain types of cholesterol or too little of other types.

Exercise can help reduce cholesterol, and even better, it can help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Even short, 10-minute spurts of exercise can help. Exercise also has the added benefit of weight loss, which can also help to lower cholesterol levels.

Type of exercise that has been shown to improve cholesterol levels: Aerobic

Diabetes

Diabetes is a disorder of the body’s insulin production and usage, and it is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. If there is not enough insulin, glucose (fuel for all cells) cannot get from the blood to the cells. As a result, the body is essentially starved and the glucose builds up in the blood. Exercise can make the cells more sensitive to insulin, and more glucose can move from the blood into cells.

Since exercise changes the way your body reacts to insulin, you may need to check your blood sugar before and after exercising. Talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise program to learn about what your levels should be.

Types of exercise that influence insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular risk factors: Aerobic and strength training

High Blood Pressure
The risk of high blood pressure increases as we age. Exercise can help to lower your risk and even control your blood pressure if it’s already high. Exercise helps with blood pressure by making your heart work more efficiently. This means your heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood, so there is less pressure on your arteries.

A good target for blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. Adding moderate physical activities to your normal routines can help you get there. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week. Even several 10-minute spurts throughout the day can help.

Types of exercise that have been shown to lower blood pressure: Aerobic and strength training

Stroke
A stroke occurs when not enough blood is reaching part of the brain. This causes the cells in that area to die. People who have already had a stroke are at increased risk for recurrent stroke or other cardiovascular problems.

A stroke can create some physical impairments. Exercise may improve strength and coordination of the affected muscles. Exercise recommendations may vary depending on the severity of the stroke and the person’s limitations.

Type of exercise for stroke recovery: Aerobic, strength training, and stretching

Cancer
Studies suggest that people with cancer who do not have depression have a better chance of survival than those who do. Exercise is a great way to avoid depression and improve your overall mood. It’s not clear exactly how exercise impacts mood, but it probably works by causing the brain to release chemicals, like endorphins, and increase body temperature, which can have a calming effect.

Types of exercise found to boost energy and mood: Aerobic and strength training

Lung Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is the most common form of lung disease in adults. Exercise improves activity levels and decreases symptoms.

Types of exercise shown to improve respiratory ability: Aerobic

Arthritis

Continuous motion is essential for the health of your joints, especially arthritic ones. Regular exercise promotes strength and flexibility, and helps preserve the resiliency of joint surfaces.

Types of exercise shown to improve joint health: Nonweightbearing aerobic, strength training, and stretching (water exercises are ideal)

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disease that can lead to fractures. Weightbearing exercises maintain bone density and strength by tipping the balance in favor of bone formation. Weightbearing activities include walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, stair climbing, tennis, and other activities that you do while on your feet.

Type of exercise shown to improve bone density: Weightbearing aerobic and strength training

In any condition, a well-rounded exercise program will have all 3 types of exercise involved. Aerobic exercise will increase your endurance and ability to get through longer workouts. Strength training will build muscle strength and allow you to tolerate higher intensities as well improve balance and agility. Stretching can decrease stiffness and increase mobility.

Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program. You can also consult with an exercise specialist to help you develop a routine.

by Carrie Myers Smith, BS

RESOURCES:
National Institutes of Health
http://www.nih.gov

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.aossm.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
http://www.csep.ca

Healthy Canadians
http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca

REFERENCES:
Depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 11, 2016. Accessed March 23, 2016.

Exercises for arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/. Accessed March 23, 2016.

Fagard RH. Exercise characteristics and the blood pressure response to dynamic physical training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33. S484-S492; 2001.

Gordon NF, Gulanick M, Costa F, Fletcher G, Franklin BA, Roth EJ, Shephard T. AHA scientific statement: Physical activity and exercise recommendations for stroke survivors. Circulation. 2004;109: 2031-2041. Circulation website. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/109/16/2031.full. Accessed March 23, 2016.

Junnila JL, Runkle GP. Coronary artery disease screening, treatment, and follow-up. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2006 Dec; 33(4).

Onitilo AA, Nietert PJ, Egede LE. Effect of depression on all-cause mortality in adults with cancer and differential effects by cancer site. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2006 Sep; 28(5): 396-402.

Physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed March 23, 2016.

Physical activity guidelines for Americans. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 9, 2013. Accessed March 23, 2016.

Weightbearing exercise for women and girls. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00263. Updated October 2007. Accessed March 23, 2016.

Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 5/8/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

weight loss

Weight Loss: What Are Your Options?

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The prevalence of obesity has increased steadily in Western cultures over the past century, particularly during the last several decades. In fact, most health professionals agree that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic in the United States.

Being overweight is closely linked to many very serious health conditions. It is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein—the “good” cholesterol), and type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, even modest reductions in weight can help reduce the risk or improve these conditions. Plus, practicing the behavioral changes of a healthier diet and regular exercise may actually reduce these risk factors whether weight loss occurs or not.

Energy Balance: The Simple Principle of Weight Loss
Scientists often explain weight loss quite simply in terms of the energy balance equation: energy in versus energy out. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn or, in reverse, you must burn more calories than you consume.

This is, of course, easier said than done. But no matter what weight loss methods you may employ—diet, exercise, medications, supplements, surgery, therapy, group support—the principle of energy balance is unavoidable. In fact, experts from both traditional and nontraditional disciplines agree that to achieve and maintain weight loss you must make changes in your diet and activity level to favorably affect the balance of the energy equation.

Using Strategies to Get Started
Getting started is often the most difficult part of losing weight. Any changes you make in your eating and exercising behaviors must become habitual, which takes time. In addition, carrying extra weight, no matter how much, can affect how you feel about yourself psychologically, sometimes making it more difficult to take the necessary steps to begin to change.

The following 5 strategies are crucial to successful weight loss and can help to overcome some of these barriers:

• Set and commit to realistic goals and monitor your progress toward achieving these goals
• Slowly modify your eating and exercise behaviors, as well as habits influencing both
• Examine and restructure unrealistic, negative thoughts, or expectations
Reduce stress
• Develop a network of social support and information

weight_loss

Looking at Weight Loss Aids
There is a great deal of interest in whether prescription medications or supplements can facilitate weight loss. Some medications suppress appetite by interfering with brain chemicals that affect mood and appetite. Others reduce fat absorption from the gut. Here are examples of medications that may be recommended for weight loss:

• Diethylpropion
• Lorcaserin
• Orlistat
• Phendimetrazine
• Phentermine—can be taken alone or in combination with another medication

Some studies have supported the use of these medications when combined with lifestyle changes. For example, as part of a review of weight loss drugs, researchers analyzed 15 trials involving almost 10,000 people who were either taking orlistat or placebo. Compared to the placebo group, those taking orlistat had a higher chance of achieving a 5% or 10% weight loss. These types of medications, though, are usually prescribed only for people who are severely obese when other methods of weight loss have not worked. Accordingly, these medications are not without side effects or potential adverse events and should only be used with careful monitoring by your doctor.

The same goes for dietary supplements. Supplements do not undergo the same rigorous approval process as drugs. That being said, certain supplements may provide weight loss benefits since they may contain similar mechanisms of action as drugs. Along the same line, some of the same risks and side effects may be present, as well, which is why you should talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter weight loss products.

Also, be sure you know what is in diet medications and supplements. Some medications and supplements that were used in the past have been pulled from the market as it was found that the dangers of taking them were higher than the benefits. Whenever you are considering taking a diet supplement, know exactly what is in the product and share this information with your doctor.

The question is: when should you consider taking these weight loss aids? While it depends on your overall health and medical history, the best approach may be a conservative one. For example, adopt lifestyle changes for 6-12 months before trying a drug or supplement. Your doctor can give you guidance as to which weight loss options you should try first.

by Jackie Hart, MD

RESOURCES:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
http://www.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:
Choosing a safe and successful weight-loss program. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/choosing-safe-successful-weight-loss-program/Pages/choosing-safe-successful-weight-loss-program.aspx. Updated December 2012. Accessed January 14, 2016.

Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2016.

Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2016.

Rucker D, Padwal R, Li SK, Curioni C, Lau DC. Long term pharmacotherapy for obesity and overweight: updated meta-analysis. BMJ. 2007;335(7631):1194-1199.

Weight loss medications for obesity in adults. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 7, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2016.

7/6/2009 DynaMed’s Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Seo DC, Sa J. A meta-analysis of psycho-behavioral obesity interventions among US multiethnic and minority adults. Prev Med. 2008;47(6):573-582.

10/15/2010 DynaMed’s Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: US Food and Drug Administration. Meridia (sibutramine): market withdrawal due to risk of serious cardiovascular events. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm228830.htm. Updated Sepember 9, 2013. Accessed January 14, 2016.

Last reviewed July 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 1/14/2016

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.