Keep Moving: Chronic Illness And Exercise

August 25 2017

Staying active and occasionally moving with your doctor’s approval is important if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness. Benefits may include:

  • Weight management
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome and reduced symptoms for those conditions
  • Strong bone and muscle structure
  • Improved mental health and mood
  • Reduced risk of falls and muscle stiffening
  • Preservation of your lifestyle

Though exercise alone cannot cure your condition, it is a potential remedy and management form of therapy that will improve your quality of life.

Where to Begin

Your doctor is always the first person you should consult when deciding to start an exercise routine. Ask the following questions and jot down the answers:

  • How can exercise best improve my chronic condition?
  • What kinds of exercises are safe for me in my condition?
  • How often should I exercise?
  • What level of intensity should I exercise?
  • Do I need to take any special steps to begin?
  • What else do I need to know?
  • Are there any exercises I should avoid?
  • Is there a trainer or professional you can recommend who knows about my particular chronic illness?

From the answers to these questions, tailor the activities that meet your needs and fit your capacity and ability. For example, if you have joint and bone related issues, you may need to choose a low-impact activity, like walking or swimming. Or if you have respiratory and breathing problems, you may want to do short bursts of exercise, while incorporating periods of resting in between.

Tips to keep you going

Sometimes it can be hard to maintain and stick to an exercise plan. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Find your motivation: Is it to improve your mood, keep up with your toddler, or generally improve your quality of life?
  • Frequency over duration: You just have to try and move around a little each day. Have an active day, by using the stairs as often as possible, sweeping the floor. If you’re bed bound, do a leg lift or two as advised by your doctor.
  • Take advantage of resources: If you have access to the gym at work or near home, use them.
  • And most importantly, don’t give up

Having a chronic illness might seem like an appropriate reason to avoid any kind of routine activity. However, if your doctor approves it, you can find some way to exercise, even if its just stretching in bed or going for a walk in the open air.


For consultations, call to schedule an appointment with us at 03 5229 5192 (Myers Street Family Medical Practice), 03 5241 6129 (The Cottage Medical Centre), 03 5264 8838 (Torquay Medical Health & Wellness Clinic). For Corporate Care Program, visit Workplace Health & Safety Victoria