Don’t Let a Medical Condition Sideline Your Desires to be Active

Exercise can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease, slow down mental decline, boost your emotional well-being and energy level, fight obesity and much more.

So why NOT exercise? Excuses can be plentiful, but even if you have health concerns, you shouldn’t live a sedentary lifestyle.

“Healthy living is still an important goal, even if you have health concerns,” said John Gee, a physical therapist at Memorial SportsCare. “Exercise is an important goal for many medical conditions, from low back pain, sciatica, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, osteoarthritis or following a stroke. With all of these, exercise usually helps with pain management and strengthening that helps lead to continued independence.”

If you have a medical condition, it’s important to first consult with your physician before initiating an exercise regimen. Some people may require assistance from a physical therapist or athletic trainer to help understand how to adapt certain physical activities to meet their needs and  their specific goals. SportsCare, for example, has an exercise physiologist on staff who can work with a client on an individual level.

Below, Gee answers some common questions people with medical conditions may have:

Question:I am taking medication for a health issue. Will my medication preclude me from exercising?”

Gee: “If a person has concerns about their medication, they should talk with their physician and pharmacist before beginning an exercise regimen. There are few medications that might preclude people from being active. For some, exercise may have to be modified if you take medications that increase risk of bleeding, for instance.”

Question: “What type of exercises may be best to help me reduce my blood pressure?”

Gee: “Strive for a program of regular exercise of 30 to 60 minutes per day. It does not need to be an intense program; any moderate physical activity will work. To learn about your ideal target heart rate during exercise, which often is determined by your age, the American Heart Association provides a chart to follow as a guideline.”

Question: “I haven’t been on a resistance training program since high school. Now that I am older and on medications, is it safe for me to begin a program at a later stage in life?”

Gee: “Yes, in most cases it is perfectly safe. Your intensity may need to be moderated or managed for some time, however, until you build up an initial tissue response to the new load, so start out slow.”

On April 28, Gee, along with Rodney Herrin, MD, Orthopedic Center of Illinois, and Cindy Kropid, YMCA Group Exercise Coordinator, will present “Tips for Healthy Living and Exercise/Staying Fit with Health Concerns,” part of a four-part “Be Fit for Spring” series, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room at the Gus and Flora Kerasotes YMCA/Memorial SportsCare building at 4450 W. Iles Ave. For additional information, visit the SportsCare website.

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