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Exercise and Pain - How Increasing Movement Can Help Decrease Discomfort

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

If you or a loved one is experiencing discomfort from everyday aches and pains there’s a simple solution to help rid you of your chronic pain. Exercise has proven to help decrease pain by increasing circulation, improving mobility, strength, and even memory. Let’s dive in to how you can decrease discomfort upon release from a rehabilitation hospital.

Exercise and pain may not seem to go hand in hand, but, there are many reasons why therapists and physicians recommend exercise for those who deal with chronic pain. Below are some of the key benefits one can see by increasing physical activity.

  • Increase in Circulation As we exercise, the heart has to increase blood flow to meet the demands of muscles. When circulation is pumped into an area that is experiencing pain or discomfort, better perfusion and exchange of metabolites can happen. This increase in oxygen due to higher blood flow can help decrease pain related to the buildup of waste products and create a healthier muscle.

  • Improve Mobility By increasing movement, we stimulate the cartilage to produce fluid that keeps the joint healthy. Without this fluid (synovial fluid) the joint can stiffen. If you have ever broken a bone and have experienced trying to move an arm or limb after the cast comes off you have experienced this feeling. Often we feel a decrease in mobility because the lack of blood flow and fluid associated with a healthy joint. Physical therapy is often needed after a cast comes off. We can relate that to areas of pain and try to increase mobility by exercising the injured area.

  • Regain Strength It takes movement to simulate muscles to increase strength. Especially now with limited activities going on due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is even more important to stay active to not lose muscle strength because of inactivity. A common example we all have experienced from lack of activity is when we come down with an illness. Often we feel weaker doing some of life’s simple tasks while we recover. Whether it is doing some workouts in the gym, more yard work, or walking, these activities can help maintain our strength and decrease risk of loss of strength.

  • Improve Memory Many of us are now working from home or have completely changed up our daily routines. Adding a few exercises to break up your work day can be an easy and effective way to improve your memory. By increasing circulation, there is a burst of oxygenated blood flow to the brain. There are even indications that new brain cells in the memory portion of the brain develop with exercise. Easy activities like going for a quick walk or buying a standing desk to increase movement while working from home can help improve your daily brain function during your work day.

  • Better Sleep It is quite difficult to fall asleep when the body is not physically tired. There is a natural response of fatigue-induced rest that doesn’t happen when the body has not had enough physical activity throughout the day. Exercise has also shown to help facilitate deeper sleep. So the next time counting sheep doesn’t work you might want to try increasing your physical activity so sleep finds you easier.

  • Increase Mood Regular exercise can help combat depression and anxiety. Natural chemicals are released to help improve your mood and well-being. Raising your serotonin levels through exercise has many health benefits. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine and norepinephrine that play an important part in regulating your mood. So the next time you feel down in the dumps try some physical activity. It is scientifically proven to make you feel better!

  • Decrease Pain Exercise is the leading intervention for musculoskeletal pain. There are a variety of exercises like cardio, weight training, and other aerobic activities that can help decrease discomfort through the increase in movement. Some results show that walking as little as 15 minutes a day can start to make a difference in little as one week. A healthy lifestyle and diet can help decrease discomfort from many common ailments.

Pretty astounding what a few extra minutes of exercise can do to increase your health right? With the amount of benefits we discussed it’s a no brainer why many should try to increase physical activity to limit pain and discomfort. Not only to our physical health but also improving our mood and mental health. Mental health is as important as physical health as many studies have shown.

If you have questions regarding what activities you can do upon release from Indianapolis Rehabilitation Hospital consult with your care providers to find options that work best for you. Not every patient requires the same type of care and we want to help guide you on your recovery.

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