Living With a Chronic Disease: How a Proper Diet and Fitness Regimen Can Help by Caitlin Evans
When faced with a chronic disease, many of us will first instinctively focus only on the negative: the pain, the discomfort, the doctor’s appointments, the amount of medication.
However, once we pull ourselves out of the negative spiral, we soon come to realize there are certain things we can do to improve our lives and manage our condition much better.
Two factors that play a key role in that regard are a proper diet and exercise regimen. Read on to learn the specifics of how they can make living with a chronic disease easier.
How can chronic disease benefit from exercise?
Exercising is one of the pillars of a healthy life. It can help improve heart and lung health, promote bone health, improve cognitive functions, help ease pain and stiffness in the joints, and improve immune system functions. It can even help improve our mental health, which is a very important aspect of dealing with a chronic disease.
Incorporating 30 minutes a day into our daily routine is all we need to do. These 30 minutes can be dispersed throughout the day, or they can be tackled all at once with an effective sweat session.
Depending on your condition, your doctor may advise you to stay clear of certain kinds of exercise, but in general, there are three kinds of workouts you should add to your routine.
First, there are aerobic exercises, like walking, running, swimming, skipping rope, etc. These are aimed at improving the health of your heart and lungs, and they’re also a great way to lose some weight.
Then there is strength training, which you can easily get into with a full bodyweight routine. You don’t have to force yourself to work with very heavy weights either – after all, you’re aiming to improve your health, not pack on significant amounts of muscle. Strength exercises are great for improving the ease with which you perform everyday activities, and stronger muscles mean you will move around more easily.
And thirdly, there are flexibility routines which work on range of motion. These are especially beneficial to our joints and other connective tissues.
Ideally, you will engage in all three kinds of exercises a couple of times a week. For instance, you can take a brisk walk in the morning and do some light stretches in the afternoon. That should be more than enough to add up to your 30 minutes a day.
How does diet improve your chronic disease?
We are what we eat, or so the saying goes. And there is a lot of truth in it, especially when we consider how unhealthy our modern diets have become.
We tend to eat a lot of processed foods, full of additives, flavor enhancers, refined sugars, and other artificial and unhealthy ingredients. An unhealthy diet is often the underlying cause of many chronic diseases, as it contributes to high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and so on.
Depending on the type of chronic disease you’re dealing with, you might want to look at different foods to help you manage your condition. In general, we can all benefit from a diet rich in fibers, antioxidants, healthy fats, whole grains, lean meats, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Making the diet changes necessary to get precisely these kinds of foods into our bodies can seem like a challenge. There will be a bit of initial struggle involved as you aim to cut out sugar and high-calorie foods. But once you overcome the cravings, you will begin to feel increasingly better.
If you want to make it easier on yourself, try incorporating a diet such as Paleo, which is known to be helpful in fighting inflammation and managing chronic illnesses. It won’t be that difficult to adopt this new eating regime, since there are plenty of delish Paleo recipes that will remove uncertainty from the equation. Since you’ll already know that what you’re eating is good for you, all you have to do is stick to the meal plan.
A chronic diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of the world: it can, in fact, be taken as the perfect time to start taking care of your body better and incorporating all of these healthy routines into your life. Make sure you don’t try to do it all at once because the resistance will be fierce at first. If you try to change too much too soon, the pressure will be too much to bear, and you might easily give up.
Take it one step at a time, and the better you start feeling, the easier it will be to add in the next improvement.
About the Author
Caitlin is a bookworm and medical student. She enjoys researching and writing about health-related topics. Caitlin is happily addicted to science, grilled tofu, and long walks. To see what she is up to next or to contact her, feel free to check out her Twitter dashboard.
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