How to use exercise as medicine (Part 2)

Ayda Page
3 min readSep 25, 2023

Exercise can be a powerful tool for disease prevention, but it is also very effective if you already have a disease. It can have positive benefits on your mood, help improve mental health, and can be an important must-have part of your treatment.

One of the most common diseases is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), which is a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels including conditions such as coronary heart disease and rheumatic heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, CVDs are the leading cause of death globally taking almost 18 million lives each year. Disease occurs when the oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked or reduced. Exercises that can be beneficial here are those that help improve blood flow, while at the same time reducing blood sugar levels as well. Aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling and swimming can improve heart health and endurance as well as activities like yoga and tai chi which can also reduce stress, a very important factor for those who struggle with CVDs.

Most diseases are related to the lifestyle choices that we make. They are also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs). And if they are caused by lifestyle choices we make, then it would make sense that we can also reduce the symptoms or in many cases even reverse them completely by changing unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. CVD risk factors include smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress. Daily exercise, such as 20 to 30 minutes of cardio activities like swimming, brisk walking, yoga, and cycling, can be a huge help in reducing symptoms and a great start to changing lifestyle behaviors. When you start doing this you will probably find yourself automatically wanting to eat healthier to support what you are trying to change with your new exercise routing.

Another common condition is osteoporosis, which is characterized by weakened bones that develop when bone mineral density and bone mass decrease, or when the structure and strength of the bones change. This can be caused by a combination of factors, including poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

It’s a silent disease because typically you don’t have symptoms until you fracture a bone. It mostly occurs in postmenopausal women and older men. Specifically, balance, coordination, and resistance training can help prevent osteoporosis. However, if you have already been diagnosed, you can still do something to improve your health and prevent further damage and exercise here is very important. Regular exercise can help improve bone density, muscle strength, balance, and overall physical function, reducing the risk of fractures and enhancing the overall quality of life for those with osteoporosis.

Two to three times a week, try resistance training such as weight machines, resistance bands, and/or bodyweight exercises. Also consider balance and coordination exercises, for example step-ups, lunges, tai chi, or simply walking backwards. Yoga and Pilates can also help improve balance, flexibility, and core strength. If you’re at a high risk, you also need to avoid exercises that involve twisting, bending, and jumping with high impact. But always remember, if you want to see results then you need to be consistent and create a daily routine. I wish there was an easy way to get results, but life’s rules apply — whatever you give, you get back.

References:

NHS. Cardiovascular disease. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cardiovascular-disease/

World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases. https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases

World Health Organization. Noncommunicable diseases. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Osteoporosis. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/osteoporosis

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Exercise for Your Bone Health. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/exercise-your-bone-health

--

--

Ayda Page

Check my website HealthAngelWarrior.com for lots more articles as well as my full story and bio :)