Do you spend your days hobbling painfully from your bed to your reclining chair and back? Does the simple idea of taking part in any kind of vigorous activity make you cringe?
Physical activity is most likely the furthest thing from your mind if you suffer from chronic pain. The truth, however, is that getting active can vastly improve your health, your comfort, mobility, and overall quality of life!
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
What does it mean to truly be “healthy?” Essentially, to be healthy means that your body is operating at its highest levels of function in regards to breathing, circulation, digestion, and more. Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be the most athletic person in the room.
Any step you make toward helping your body function at its optimum levels is a step toward becoming a healthier you. There are tons of exercises, stretches, and nutritional tips available to you that can help increase your health and help you feel physically better overall.
Keep reading to learn about five things you can do to get back on a path towards better health.
Do you enjoy being in the water? If even walking hurts too much these days, maybe you should take a dip in the pool instead.
Swimming is tremendously helpful for people with arthritis or extremity injuries because the water eases the forces of gravity on the body. Water has immense healing properties as well.
Even if you can’t swim, try some healthy walking or dog-paddling in the water, or simply hold onto the sides while you try out some stretches. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good this can be for you!
2. WEIGHT LIFTING
Lifting weights isn’t just for “muscle-heads” or “gym rats.” Weight training can help you build up the muscle tissue that helps to support your joints.
If your muscles are strong, it means they’ll tire less easily and will be less vulnerable to painful strains. Working with weights also helps you maintain your bone density and avoid age-related muscle wasting.
3. BIKE RIDING
Riding a bike gets you where you want to go while offering a number of health benefits!
This kind of aerobic workout can help you improve your heart health, while the simple act of operating the bike exercises your balance and builds leg strength. If you have back pain or knee problems, cycling is also lower-impact than running, and much easier on your shins.
Walking requires absolutely no special equipment, and it’s something you literally have to do to get from point A to point B, every day. If you have to make a short trip, why waste gasoline when you can get some fresh air and low-impact exercise instead?
Walking gives your circulation a healthy boost without making excessive demands on your body. It also gets your weight-bearing joints moving — and that’s a huge benefit if you struggle with arthritis.
As previously stated, running is more demanding on the heart, lungs, and knees than walking is. However, these demands can turn out to be very good for something causing you pain. The famous “runner’s high” you may have heard so much about seems to offer its own pain-reducing benefits for chronic pain sufferers.
The phrase “no pain, no gain” also seems to apply here. That routine you get from running could encourage your brain to step down its baseline pain sensitivity, making your other aches and pains seem less of a bother.
OTHER WAYS TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes work, but once you get into the groove of it, it becomes much easier and even enjoyable.
Starting out by choosing nutritious foods is one of the easiest ways to improve your health (although we know those sweets are hard to kick!) Physical activity is the hardest aspect to get in the habit of doing, especially if you are being held back by chronic pain.
Some people try to mask their symptoms with anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications, while others, unfortunately, give up on the idea of being active altogether. This only exacerbates pain problems and makes things worse for you in the long run.
Luckily, there is an alternative option: physical therapy. With the help of a physical therapist, it is possible to reclaim your pain-free, healthy lifestyle, and get back to doing the activities you love!
HOW PHYSICAL THERAPY CAN IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH
A physical therapist is a licensed movement specialist. They know how to properly evaluate your health and prescribe the right activities for your needs and goals. At the same time, you may be able to enhance the benefits of your activities with other safe, helpful modalities such as massage, ultrasound therapy, dry needling, cold and heat treatments, acupuncture, or laser therapy.
It’s up to you if you want to pursue any or all of these activities. You can also ask our physical therapist about integrating them into a full-scale physical therapy program. The latter approach could be a great idea if you’re in the process of rehabilitating an injury, unsure of how much exercise your body can tolerate, or battling a particular chronic pain issue.
These therapies can promote tissue repair, ease inflammation, reduce pain, and increase your ability to keep moving and living life to the fullest.