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Done Correctly, Exercise Can be Good for Arthritis, COPD, and Type 2 Diabetes
Sunday, September 18, 2016

Exercise is always a topic of conversation, but it has recently been in the news again with doctors and researchers across the country urging all Americans to get a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise, three times a week. But is that accurate? Should everyone subscribe to the same exercise formula?

Yes and no. Everyone should be getting some exercise every week, but the type, duration, and frequency will vary according to your age, health, and goals.

For anyone with arthritis, COPD, and Type 2 diabetes, how much and what types of exercise isn’t as straightforward as it is for young people without any health issues. Here’s how to get the most benefit from exercise without worrying that you’ll negatively impact your health—rather than improve it—in the process.


It may seem counterintuitive, but right kind of exercise can help ease the discomfort associated with arthritis. Studies have found that people with knee arthritis who do mild aerobic and strength training exercises report less pain and an improved ability to perform basic daily tasks compared with those who did no exercise.

In order to avoid muscle imbalances that could worsen your discomfort, pay very close attention to good form during any exercise. Work with a physical therapist or certified personal trainer who can show you how to perform exercises properly so that you can then do them at home or at a gym on your own.

A good goal for is 150 minutes of low-­impact activities such as tai chi, walking, swimming, or cycling each week.


Another condition that doesn’t seem to warrant an exercise plan is COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive illness that narrows airways and makes breathing difficult. It would seem, naturally, that exercise could make it even more difficult to catch your breath with this condition. But increasing overall fitness with mild and suitable exercise, people with this condition can limit weight gain, improve breathing, and reduce fatigue.

If your breathing isn’t stable or you have another condition such as heart disease, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise. Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe supplemental oxygen during workouts.

If your COPD is mild or under control, start with four or five hour-long periods of mild exercise each week. You might try walking or stationary cycling with strength training.  

Type 2 Diabetes

Several important studies have shown that aerobic exercise and strength training can be almost as effective as some drugs in controlling blood sugar levels, particularly when combined with dietary changes.

Remember to schedule exercise around meals or insulin injections in order to avoid low blood sugar. And always have a healthy, sugar-rich snack handy—just in case.

Set a goal of 150 minutes of moderate activities such as walking, biking, or swimming 3 -5 times a week. For strength training, add 8 - 10 repetitions o10 different moves two to three times each week, using your own body weight or tools such as exercise bands or hand weights. 

If you have questions about how exercise can help you stay healthy while living with various medical conditions, stop in to talk with one of our healthcare providers. We’re always happy to help you achieve the best health possible.


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