Got a chronic condition? Learn more about exercise

Research shows 50 per cent of Australians have a chronic condition, here’s how movement can help.

Do you have a long-term or persistent condition? Perhaps you are grappling with a mental illness, trauma, disability and a genetic disorder.

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, according to self-reporting in the 2014-15 National Health Survey, one in every two Australians have at least one prominent chronic condition, such as arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or mental health conditions.

The good news is, exercise can have important health benefits. However, chronic illness can mean different things to different people – and everyone has their own priorities. So, you should always speak with your doctor before starting an exercise routine. More on that below!

Daniel Carner, a physical therapist and musculoskeletal therapy expert at Casey Allied Health shares this advice about exercising if you have a chronic condition.

Exercise and illness

“Exercise can help maintain bone density, general mobility, muscle and tendon health and general emotional state,” says Daniel. Plus, it can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Watch this video to find out more.

“However, exercise can work backwards in some people…particularly those with autoimmune disorders, which are known to be exercise resistant,” reminds Daniel. “In these cases, it comes down to common sense medicine.”

Do it your way

Daniel says, exercise plans should be customised for the individual and include realistic goals.

According to The Heart Foundation guidelines, you should see your doctor before you start an exercise regime if:

  • You’re a man over 35 or a woman over 45
  • You’re pregnant
  • Physical activity causes chest pain
  • You often faint or have severe dizzy spells
  • Moderate-intensity activity makes you very breathless
  • You smoke, are overweight, or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Your heart beats too fast or irregularly.

“Then, it’s up to the practitioner to decide which goals are attainable and which ones will have to wait,” says Daniel. “As you build up strength and stamina, your exercise goals may change.

“The trick is knowing just how far to take it and what goals to set.”

Emotional impact of movement

Starting regular exercise can be physically and mentally challenging at first. Remember, it takes time to build up to the national recommendation of 30 minutes or more of moderate intensityphysical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.

“But, exercise doesn’t need to be unpleasant or intense,” says Daniel. “It can be as simple as going for a walk through the botanical gardens or jumping in some puddles on your walk home!”

He adds, the words exercise and play should go together. “Playing releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with receptors in your brain that can reduce perceived pain and give a greater positive feeling in your body.”

Allied Wellness Pty Ltd
PO Box 962, Berwick Vic 3806

IMPORTANT: The information on this website does not replace a face-to-face relationship with your medical professional or healthcare practitioner. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment as a result of any information provided in this website.