One of the best things you can do for your health is to be physically active. Regular exercise doesn’t just offer the potential for longevity (or at least more years of life); it can mean the difference between a good quality of life now and in your later years versus being incapacitated and unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
If you’ve recently had a bad cold or the flu, you may need to ease back into exercise. While your symptoms may have dissipated, you should give yourself adequate time to recuperate and regain your energy. Don’t make the mistake of putting exercise completely on hold. Rather, consider partaking in physical activities with a bit less intensity than usual.
If you were injured and have been unable to exercise or have not exercised the body part that was injured, make sure that, when you resume exercise, you follow your health care practitioner’s advice. Depending on the nature of the injury (e.g., damage to the soft tissue versus bone) you may need to avoid or modify certain movements. You may need to temporarily lighten the load of weight-bearing exercise, avoid high impact exercise such as skipping and jumping, or limit the range of motion of some movements. An aquafit class is suitable for many people coming back from injuries because the water provides buoyancy and resistance for a strength-building and aerobic workout while significantly reducing pressure on your joints.
If you’re at home recovering from a hospital stay, for example, if you had surgery, there may be certain exercises that are contraindicated until you’re fully healed. You may have been discharged so quickly that your head spun and you find yourself at home unsure of what to do next. Although there are some exceptions, in general, the bed is not your friend.
Gone are the days when hospitals would keep patients for lengthy stays and doctors would confine normally mobile patients to a bed for constant rest. Financial cutbacks are one reason, but you’re really encouraged to get out of bed and walk as soon as possible to prevent bed sores, improve breathing, stabilize blood pressure, reduce weakness, prevent loss of strength and improve your appetite and mood. A study by the University of Haifa found that hospital patients over the age of 70 who walked around the ward had better outcomes than those who remained in bed for several days of hospitalization or just sat next to the bed. Short-term immobility led to increased loss of muscle reserves and resulted in more complications with functional abilities and health. http://tinyurl.com/grz3y4a
If you’re an outpatient undergoing treatment for a chronic medical condition such as cancer or kidney failure, exercise can help you rebuild your strength and lift your mood. If you’re on chemotherapy, dialysis or other medical protocols, some exercises may be too strenuous during certain periods such as the days of and following treatment. During those periods, you may want to try more gentle exercise such as yoga and walking. On other days, you may have the energy and strength to engage in other activities. The mental lift you get from exercise may help you deal better with your physical ailment.
There are various fitness programs offered in the community for people living with such situations as advanced kidney disease, diabetes or multiple sclerosis (MS). Ask your doctor or Google to find resources. If you’re recovering from a heart attack and you’ve already completed the rehab program at the Ottawa Heart Institute, or if you’re living with another chronic condition, you may want to try a Heart Wise exercise class that provides a safe and appropriate level of intensity of cardio, strength and flexibility training. The Soloway Jewish Community Centre offers Heart Wise Vitality Plus classes. For a complete list of Heart Wise program health benefits and locations, including classes specifically designed for seniors with diabetes, visit www.heartwise.ottawaheart.ca. To find out about group exercise and learn-to-run classes for people on dialysis, visit www.alivetostrive.ca. You can get a free online guide to physical activity for people with MS at www.mssociety.ca.
Whether you’re recovering from a short-term illness, an injury, or are living with a chronic health issue, communicate with your medical and fitness professionals to find the best types of exercise for you. If there are occasional days when you just need to rest, that’s OK, too. Listen to your body.