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Being Active When You Have More Than One Health Problem - Topic Overview

When you are living with health problems, regular exercise and activity are important. They keep you healthier, give you energy, make you stronger, and help your mood.

Exercise and activity can help many health problems. An active body is less likely to give in to diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, arthritis, depression, or weight gain. And being active can help protect you from new health problems.

What is being active?

What does "exercise" or "being active" mean? It all depends on what you can do. When you think of exercise, you may think of running or going to a gym. This may be overwhelming to you. But exercise can be about making small changes in physical activity level. For example, parking your car in the farthest parking space from a store, can be a first small step.

It can be hard to be active when you have many health problems. Exercising enough to control diabetes can be a challenge when arthritis makes walking painful or when heart failure slows you down. But there are choices, like doing exercises in the water or as part of a cardiac rehab program.

With your doctor's help, you can decide what works for you. Figure out what is safe, what to avoid, and what kinds of choices you have. Don't be too active or get too much exercise at first. Do a little at first, and then gradually do more.

What are the benefits?

Regular exercise:

  • Helps control stress, depression, and anxiety.
  • Gives you more energy.
  • Helps manage blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Lowers your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Makes your lungs stronger.
  • Keeps your weight down.
  • Keeps your blood sugar at a healthy level.
  • Can build bone strength.

How do you stay safe?

You want to live life to its fullest, but you don't want to hurt yourself.

1. Know your strengths and your barriers. When you have more than one chronic disease, there may be some physical limits on what you can do. If you push your limits, you could hurt yourself. It's also normal to have feelings that can get in the way, like fear, depression, or being self-conscious. These emotions and physical limits are called barriers.

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