Over 133 million Americans – or nearly 40% of the country’s population – deal with ongoing and incurable chronic health conditions. What’s more, over 30% of these see their daily activities restricted or compromised by their condition.
But does that mean that you’ll have to give up sports? The quick answer is no! Practicing physical activity if you have a long-term condition is not only possible but even recommended to support your overall health and quality of life – of course, with the right adjustments.
Start with the tips below.
Ask Experts (e.g. a Hematologist) What You Can Safely Do
Not two chronic conditions have the same symptoms or consequences. In turn, there is no standard answer you can use to know if it is safe for you to practice a certain sport or engage in a specific activity.
That is why the best option you have is to consult a qualified expert who can assess your condition and recommend a fitness program tailored to your needs, limitations, and goals.
For example, if you have been struggling with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, asthma, or IBD, your healthcare provider might recommend low-impact sports such as yoga, pilates, or swimming.
Oppositely, if you have a hematologic condition like anemia, your hematology care provider might suggest you practice shorter workouts and take more frequent breaks to avoid complications.
Learn More About Your Condition and Find Suitable Physical Activity
“Long-term condition” is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
And, for most adults, exercising with a long-term medical condition and practicing sports like swimming, weightlifting, or walking is safe and beneficial if practiced mindfully and progressively.
But don’t forget that each disease has its own risks and consequences. For example, joint and back pain can affect your range of movement and compromise your ability to live independently.
On the other hand, high-impact and contact sports can make your condition worse. Understanding what activity is the most beneficial for your condition is essential before diving head first into a new fitness program!
Work With A Coach Who Can Help You Find A Suitable Fitness Routine
Whether your long-term condition derives from a traumatic injury, or you have received an unexpected diagnosis, the chances are that you are now in the recovery phase. But, once you have adjusted your lifestyle to the changing needs of your body, it is time to get back on track with your fitness goals.
From restoring your conditioning levels to supporting your overall health, following a fitness routine can have many important benefits.
But as your body adjusts to the new condition, it’s important to work with a specialized fitness coach who can help you find the right exercises for your needs and design a fitness routine that can minimize the risk of further injury.
Go Beyond Your Perceived Risk – The Benefits of Physical Activity Outweigh the Risks!
It is common for people living with one or more long-term conditions to perceive physical activity as risky. But, despite the perceived risk, there is clinical consensus that the benefits of practicing sports outweigh the risks for people with chronic health concerns, and the actual risk is extremely low.
While it might be hard to return to practicing sports after a severe injury or a life-changing diagnosis, everyone has their own starting point. Working with a specialized healthcare provider and a fitness coach is important to set your expectations, reduce risks, and achieve important health milestones.
Use a More Holistic Approach To Health And Wellbeing
While practicing sports is essential for people living with a chronic condition, it is also essential to opt for a more holistic approach to health. For example, practicing mental endurance training, breathing exercises, and meditation can help you build awareness of your body and its new limitations.
What’s more, before diving into a new sport or fitness activity, take your time to recover from the trauma, adjust to your new routine, and choose to lead an all-around healthy lifestyle.
When returning to sports, your goal should be to support your overall physical health and mental wellbeing.