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By Victoria Alwin
MSRD 

Painful decision

Nutrition Corner

 


I have a number of patients and family who tell me that they would like to exercise but their arthritis, back, knees, or whatever, hurts too much to move. Being of an age to have done many stupid things to my body over the years, as well as having had knee surgeries, I do understand pain and the body whispering for rest, not activity. Unfortunately, this is not always good advice.

Extensive studies have shown that exercise can decrease the pain of arthritis, as well as promote recuperation after many surgeries. It can shorten or ease labor before and recovery after delivering that new little bundle of joy, as well as give you the stamina needed for the first months around a new life. Hospitals learned the hard way that getting patients up and around after surgery not only helps the patient feel better, but decreases the chances of pneumonia which often happens with too much bed rest. Exercise can even lessen the severity of migraine headaches if done consistently BEFORE the headache occurs.

As with all changes in daily activities, definitely ask your doctor or provider before starting any exercise program. I read online that strenuous exercise can cause headaches. Strenuous exercise can cause a number of problems in addition to headaches and sore muscles. What is “strenuous” exercise? I would define it as doing anything that causes you more pain or discomfort after or during the exercise.

There is a distinctive difference between the soreness of muscles that haven’t been used for a while and the pain of something gone wrong.

Best advice: listen and pay attention to what your body is telling you while you are exercising. “No pain, no gain” might be great for some, but not for the majority of people I know. Pain is not the point. Good body health is.

Pain can cause you to not exercise for some time. Soreness can point out which muscles are unhappy, as well as which ones need more work to become strong and pliable again. Everyone gripes when made to work more than they are used to, same with muscles. Again there is a big difference between a “good soreness” and “screwed up something pain.” “Use it or lose it” is true, but just “use it” slowly.

Can’t walk or stand? There are a number of good exercises that can be done while seated. Type in “chair exercises” in your search engine and you can easily pick some free exercises, including http://www.Sparkpeople.com. There are also DVDs for chair yoga, cardio, salsa dancing, whatever you want. Amazon and your library have a selection of DVDs. Don’t be insulted if the title includes “senior”; the workout is still good for any age, just easier on the body.

A warning: on the days that you are hurting, move through your routine more slowly. The benefit of moving is that it reminds you of how healthy your body still is and not how bad your body feels.

 
 

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