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Chronic Illnesses And Workouts: How To Begin?

By Saksham Bhatia +2 more

Incorporating a workout regime into the daily routine is a difficult enough task for healthy people who desire to live a fit and active life. It is even more difficult for people who are suffering from any chronic illnesses. The uncertainty of whether they can put up with the exercises, if they are safe enough and whether all this effort would benefit them in any way- are thoughts that hinder or make a person suffering from a chronic illness, postpone working out. 

Why is working out essential for people with Chronic Illnesses?

Working out is extremely beneficial for people with a chronic illness, as it may lower the risk of further complications arising if done appropriately. It may also reduce the risk of other chronic illnesses occurring. Working out regularly may also help reduce the intensity of existing disease pain/morbidity. Exercise will help in endorphin release, which acts as a natural pain killer and boosts up a patient’s mood.

Let us explore what working out can do for some specific chronic illnesses.


Working out for patients with chronic arthritis can be difficult in the beginning, but in the long run, it may help increase your range of motion and also keep your body weight under check, an excess of which can put additional pressure on your joints.

Arthritis and joint injuries are most common types encountered in my practice. I advise low-impact exercises which are exercises that are easy on your joints and ligaments. Some common types of exercise include (you guessed it) walking, swimming and water aerobics, cycling, rowing, pilates, and yoga. While you may not feeling like you are exerting a ton of energy during low-impact exercise, it comes with benefits like improved strength, reduced blood pressure, lower stress, less recovery time, and reduced risk of injury.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Cardiac issues

For people suffering from heart conditions, doing aerobic exercises and cardio training may reduce the risk of arteries getting clogged. It helps you maintain healthy body weight. It may help keep the blood pressure under control and may lower the risk of having strokes. 


Physical activities are great for people suffering from diabetes as they may help reduce insulin resistance and keep you energized throughout the day. It is also great for managing your body weight.


Physical exercises may help reduce the rate at which the symptoms of dementia become worse.

Back pain

Chronic back pain, which can result from a C section, any injury or postural deformities may be kept under control by working out regularly. Working out may also help the tense muscles to relax. 


Working out regularly may improve the mood, mental health and quality of life of a cancer patient. It can help a patient get rid of negativity and form an overall optimistic outlook on life.


Following a fitness regime may help asthma patient to improve their respiratory health and may lower the frequency of asthma attacks. 


Most of the time involves joints. Working out improves the range of motion and promotes the well-being of patients.

Also Read: Vitamin E for Hair: A Detailed Guide on its Benefits and Usage

What are some ways to start working out with a Chronic Illness?

Here are some ways you can take the leap and start working out if you have a chronic illness.

Consult an expert

Ask your doctor/physiotherapist which kinds of exercises are safe for you and what intensity of working out is suitable for you. Find out about the precautionary measures that you need to adopt for your specific health condition. Also, ask about how often you need to work out to get optimum results and whether any medications need to be discontinued or started when you start working out. Reach out to a certified fitness trainer for further guidance.

Set solid goals but do not be too hard on yourself

Set a definite goal before you start working out so that you can look up to it from time to time and remind yourself why you started it in the first place. A predetermined goal can be your driving force but do not be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself to get habituated to the workout regime eventually.

Set a fixed time for working out

Set a fixed time so that you make sure that is not buried under other work which you may choose to prioritize at that moment. Nobody has the same kind of motivation every day. This is one way of ensuring that you are consistent with your efforts. 

Aim small

Do not set sky-high goals right at the beginning. This might make you lose motivation and feel dejected. Aim small and try to achieve your targets daily.

Find a workout partner with a similar history of illness

Finding a workout partner with a similar history of chronic illness may instil a sense of belonging and encourage both of you to lead better lives by being active.

Seek help when in need

If you suffer from any side effects or develop symptoms of certain health complications do not hesitate from seeking help from a medical professional. Ignoring minor problems may lead to bigger ones.

Starting to work out after being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be especially hard. Setting small goals, fixing a particular time for working out and taking help when required are some ways of starting to work out on the right foot so that you can gain from it in the long run.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.


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