Catherine Mercer M.S. Exercise Physiologist
When someone suffers from the discomfort of chronic inflammation, physical exercise can seem impossible. Most people tend to become more sedentary when they experience inflammatory pain. Isn’t it better to rest the body when it is in pain? Won’t physical exertion worsen my pain level? The answer is no and no.
High intensity interval training or HIIT has been found to be one of the most effective exercise methods at reducing inflammation. This can be done using either cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, eliptical etc,) or strength training exercise. A HIIT exercise program alternates between low/moderate intensity intervals and high intensity intervals. However, many people are intimidated by or are not physically capable of high intensity intervals. Not to worry. The latest research on exercise and inflammation shows that as little as twenty minutes of moderate walking each day has significant anti-inflammatory effects.
The good news is that regular exercise will significantly reduce inflammation. The bad news is that too much sitting in between exercise can largely negate that benefit. One hour of exercise cannot offset ten hours of stillness. If you have a sedentary job try to get up and walk around at least once per hour. Try to be as active as possible during your non-working hours. A good tool is to get a pedometer or fitbit and try to clock 7,000 to 10,000 steps each day.
Diet is also vital in trying to manage chronic inflammation. Incorporate animal based omega -3 fatty acids, leafy greens, blueberries, tea, herbs and spices, fermented vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and garlic into your daily diet while limiting sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
Most functional training is performed standing. It places great emphasis on working the stabilizer muscles. There are two basic categories of muscles: movers and stabilizers. Movers move the body. Stabilizers support the body. If we perform exercises on seated weight machines we are utilizing the movers only. This can leave our stabilizers weak and lead to poor posture, joint pain and injuries.
Functional training isn’t just the latest fad. It is based on sound principles of science and movement.
Benefits of exercise for seniors:
Regular exercise will both prevent health problems and manage existing conditions in older adults. It can be safely done regardless of your age, fitness level, health or history. If you need help getting started safely, contact a qualified exercise professional that has experience working with seniors. Local classes designed for seniors are also a great way to start.