How Running Can Benefit Those With Chronic Ailments
Chronic ailments often pose significant challenges, impacting various aspects of life including physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. Engaging in physical activity might seem daunting for those dealing with persistent health conditions, but surprisingly, running—an activity commonly associated with fitness enthusiasts—can offer numerous benefits, even to those managing chronic ailments.
Breaking the Misconceptions
At first glance, the idea of running might appear counterintuitive for individuals dealing with chronic health conditions. However, research and anecdotal evidence suggest that incorporating running into a carefully planned fitness routine can bring about a multitude of positive changes, despite ongoing health challenges.
Professor Sarah Johnson, PhD in Exercise Physiology says,”Research shows that incorporating running into a carefully designed fitness routine can benefit those with chronic ailments by boosting mental health. The release of endorphins during running can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, providing a positive impact on mental well-being, despite ongoing health challenges.”
Isaac mathew a 36 year old has been battling with depression and anxiety after he suddenly lost his job during Covid. Despite multiple efforts he was unable to overcome his over powering thoughts of doom. Mathews remembers how his psychiatrist suggested including, running into his weekly routine as a complementary therapy and he started with short runs, gradually increasing duration and frequency. Over time, mathew experienced a noticeable improvement in his mood and reduction in anxiety levels.
Running became an outlet for stress relief, allowing the 36 year old to manage his emotions more effectively. He reported feeling more optimistic, experiencing fewer depressive episodes, and an overall boost in his mental health.
Benefits of Running for Chronic Ailments
1. Improved Cardiovascular Health:
Running is a cardiovascular exercise that can enhance heart health by strengthening the heart muscle and improving blood circulation. For individuals with conditions like hypertension or heart disease, running under appropriate guidance can be beneficial.
According to a study, published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) running, even 5-10 minutes per day and slow speeds <6 mph, is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits.
2. Enhanced Endurance and Stamina:
Regular running gradually increases endurance and stamina, allowing individuals with chronic ailments to better cope with day-to-day activities and reduce feelings of fatigue.
Dr. Emily Patel, Pulmonologist says that while it’s important to proceed cautiously, running can be beneficial for individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma. When managed properly, it can enhance lung function and capacity, potentially improving breathing efficiency and overall respiratory health.
3. Mental Health Benefits:
The endorphins released during running can significantly improve mood, alleviate stress, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression often associated with chronic illnesses.
According to a study published by VeryWell Health, stated that people who ran over 15 miles per week had a 40% lower risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease. Research has repeatedly demonstrated a correlation between physical exercise and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.
4. Weight Management:
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for managing various chronic conditions. Running, coupled with a balanced diet, can aid in weight management and improve overall body composition.
5. Bone and Muscle Strength:
Running is a weight-bearing exercise that can strengthen bones and muscles, potentially reducing the risk of osteoporosis and improving overall physical strength.
Dr. Michael Chen, Rheumatologist says, “For individuals dealing with chronic conditions like arthritis, moderate running can aid in improving joint function and reducing stiffness. It helps in strengthening muscles around the joints, contributing to better flexibility and overall mobility, when done with appropriate precautions.”
6. Improved Sleep Quality:
Regular exercise, including running, has been linked to better sleep quality, which is often disrupted in individuals with chronic health issues.
Running Safely with Chronic Ailments
It’s essential to approach running with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially for those managing chronic conditions. Here are some tips:
Consult a Physician: Seek medical advice before starting any exercise routine, especially if dealing with chronic ailments.
Start Slowly: Begin with a gentle pace and gradually increase intensity and duration as stamina builds.
Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s crucial to stop and seek advice.
Proper Gear and Hydration: Invest in appropriate running shoes, stay hydrated, and dress comfortably for the activity.
Running, when approached mindfully and under proper guidance, can be a beneficial form of exercise for individuals managing chronic ailments. Its ability to improve cardiovascular health, mental well-being, endurance, and overall fitness can positively impact the lives of those navigating ongoing health challenges.
Before embarking on a running routine, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to tailor a fitness plan that suits individual needs and ensures a safe and effective exercise regimen. With the right approach and guidance, running can indeed become a pathway toward improved health and well-being for individuals dealing with chronic ailments.
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