How can you find the right type of exercise for your long-term health condition?

For years, the benefits of exercise have been overwhelmingly clear, with governments worldwide pushing to get populations up and moving. The Department of Health and Social Care has even labelled inactivity as the ‘silent killer’, with many authorities recommending that adults get 150 minutes of exercise a week. 

As well as helping with general weight management and overall fitness, regular physical activity reduces your risk of major illnesses, and can help manage flare-ups of any pre-existing conditions. But finding the right type of exercise for you is a balance between pushing yourself to get moving and being mindful of any health needs. Here, we take a look at the different factors to consider, to help you choose a type of workout that’s right for you.

Consider a low-impact option

If you have a condition that affects your joints, such as gout or arthritis, low-impact exercises can provide a gentle way to get your heart pumping without further damaging your body. It can feel counterproductive to move when your joints are sore, but gentle movement is essential to stop them seizing up. Additionally, light exercise can help with weight management, which can be helpful, as excess weight can put unnecessary strain on your joints. 

Opt for low-impact options like swimming, cycling, or spinning. They all get your heart rate up and your body moving, but without the same jarring effect that running can have. For those wanting to slow the pace, yoga provides a low-impact, low-intensity workout, and offers a range of variations for those who don’t feel able to exactly copy the instructor. Additionally, it can help calm your mind, which may be useful for those who struggle with chronic pain.

Balance cardio with strength training

Building up your strength isn’t all about lifting super heavy weights and becoming incredibly muscular. Even using small free weights builds strength throughout the body, and offers the same endorphin rush as cardio. 

Whether done at home or in the gym, this type of training can help build muscle to support your posture, reduce injury, and increase bone density, and it’s perfect for those who either physically struggle with or don’t enjoy cardio training. Many people with long-term conditions also enjoy strength training as it can easily be done as part of a home exercise programme, making it more accessible. It can also be combined with high-intensity interval training exercises, or resistance training, if suitable, for a more varied workout. 

Take it steady

Whatever type of training you choose, make sure to build up to it slowly, rather than rushing in and doing five sessions a week. Especially if you have a long-term health condition, you may benefit from speaking to a healthcare professional or taking advice from a qualified trainer about which types of exercise are right for you. 

There’s no need to commit to just one type of training either – as well as being a health tool, exercise should be enjoyable. Whatever you choose, get moving and enjoy that endorphin rush!

If you want to help your kids find their right type of exercise with sports, please see the resource below.

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