Do exercise, but don’t overdo it! Moving and getting enough exercise is an important part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, but there are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to physical activity, especially for individuals with specific conditions. In general, when you are feeling under the weather, do analyze your symptoms first and don’t exercise if you have a fever. If you are sick from the neck up, then exercising is likely OK according to WebMD. In fact, studies were conducted by Dr. Leonard Kaminsky on lung function and exercise tolerance with a cold. Participants in one study were deliberately infected with rhinovirus and then asked to get on a treadmill at the peak of their symptoms. Surprisingly, lung function remained the same even with the sniffles. But, if you have symptoms below the neck, like fever or body aches and pains, then exercising is not advised.
Even if you are not “sick,” but just don’t feel “right,” it is better to reduce total exercise time and then add minutes to your routine next time. Do a walk instead of a run or break up your total exercise into smaller time segments. Individuals with fibromyalgia or arthritis do better with shorter bouts of activity. In fact, for fibromyalgia, the Mayo Clinic recommends you start exercising for 2 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes as you can tolerate more. For both conditions, if you engage in exercise and then hurt for over two hours following the session, you have overdone it.
Individuals affected by movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s, greatly benefit from exercise. In fact, the Parkinson’s Organization suggests that exercising for two and a half hours per week can slow the disease progression. Yoga, dance, Pilates and stretching are well-suited for those with Parkinson’s. Regular physical activity is also beneficial for those with Type II diabetes to control blood sugar. But, aerobic and resistance exercise combined may provide the most beneficial glucose control effects. However, if you have proliferative diabetic retinopathy (RDR), you need to avoid heavy lifting, high impact activity, or positions that require cranial inversion. Also, those with blood sugar levels over 400 at any given time should refrain from exercising while blood sugar is elevated.
What about exercising in inclement weather? Preparation is key. Having a jacket, umbrella or even a change of shoes in your car can make a rainstorm a challenge rather than an obstacle. Yet, no one should be outdoors exercising when the heat index or humidity is too high. High temperatures can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or worst of all, heat stroke. Staying hydrated, knowing the signs of heat-related illnesses and getting help right away are key to surviving physical activity in heat according to the Mayo Clinic. Cold weather can also present a host of other activity-related issues. You can be faced with tingling extremities, below zero wind chill, and unsafe and slippery outdoor surfaces. Experts agree that exercising in extreme wind chill is not advisable. If you have asthma, cold, dry air can be a trigger, so using an inhaler prior to outdoor activity is key. And if there is heavy smoke in the area, exercise inside only and watch the air quality levels closely.
Although exercise is a wonderful activity for an anti-inflammatory way of life, it must be accompanied by awareness and good decision-making to truly be best for you and your health.