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Exercising with Health Issues

Everyday the news announces another research study that proves the benefits of exercise for people ages 0 to one hundred. Most people know of the importance of exercise and some even make an effort to fit it in their daily lives. But what about people who deal with a chronic health problem that limits their ability to exercise? Should those people simply give up on exercise altogether? Doctors and research studies both answer this with an emphatic negative. Exercise still remains one of the most powerful drugs available without a prescription, even for individuals who cannot be active in a traditional activity or manner. Medical professionals encourage those with chronic health issues to find appropriate physical activity that can be done at least three times weekly. For some people, though, this can be not only challenging but overwhelming. Simply the thought of forcing a less-than-whole body into exercise can be very unappealing. Fortunately there are many gentler fitness options available today than ever before and nearly all of them can be adjusted to meet the personal needs of the individual. Many of these exercises can even be done within the privacy of the home; so homebound exercisers can still be active.

Water Aerobics

This is one of the most highly recommended options for people with arthritis and other joint and connective tissue disorders. Water supports the body and takes the majority of the stress off the joints. Muscles are able to devote more effort to exercising since they are not called on to support the skeleton. The water provides resistance for the body to work against without causing friction or pain. While intense water aerobic classes can seriously raise your heart rate, it's best to start out at a lower level and gradually increase your activity as you feel comfortable with it. Water aerobics classes are available at gyms and recreation centers across the country, and typically do not cost much money. Most classes do use some kind of accessories to increase calorie burn. If you are fortunate enough to have your own pool at home, invest in some water accessories and then have your own private class at home! Try to spend at least thirty minutes in the pool initially and aim for about three times per week.

Pilates

Originally developed by a man who was an invalid himself, the Pilates method focuses on building strength in the muscles and in particular conditioning the "powerhouse" or abdominal muscles to provide better support for the spine. The method is named after its founder, Joseph Pilates, who spent the first thirteen years or so as a weak, sickly child until he discovered exercise. By age 15 Pilates was healthy and strong, and he continued to promote his method throughout Europe and the United States. Even now, in the twenty-first century, the Pilates method is still making a difference in the lives of people dealing with chronic illness and weakness. Pilates classes can be found in almost all cities and you may want to watch a class before choosing to commit to anything. If you prefer the privacy of your own home, there are dozens of videos and DVDs available from qualified instructors that you can use to strengthen and condition your body. The method requires few props so there's no major investment of money. In the beginning, start with 15-20 minutes of work and gradually increase the time as you feel able.

Hatha Yoga

Developed over five thousand years ago in northern India, yoga has evolved over the years from a highly religious activity to a strengthening method that can be as spiritual or non-spiritual as you prefer. Yoga is an exceptionally flexible program - if there's a pose you don't feel comfortable doing, simply skip it and move to the next one. It is your program and you can adjust it to meet your level of skill and strength. Some days you may not feel comfortable enough to do some poses while other days it may be simple. Yoga does not demand that you complete every pose perfectly or match your instructor's stance exactly. If you choose to find a class in your area, be aware that many studios offer yoga classes for students who need a gentler pace. Try to view a class before deciding to sign up. The video and DVD market for yoga has exploded within the past few years and you can find almost anything and everything. The best way to begin a home program is to purchase a beginner's workout on video or DVD and begin using it three times a week or as often as you feel capable. Gradually increase your time and skill level as your body grows stronger.

Living with health issues does not mean that you have to allow your body to grow weak. Investigate one of these safe and gentle options today, and you could be on your way to a stronger, healthier body tomorrow

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