Managing Chronic Disease with Exercise


Having a chronic disease doesn’t give you a free pass to stop moving. I hear people talk about arthritis and diabetes and how they “can’t” exercise anymore because of it. What if I told you exercise could likely decrease your symptoms of chronic disease and start to turn things around for you! Exercise is a powerful tool, and when used correctly it can make incredible changes to your quality of life. Most people think exercise means running miles, deadlifting 300 pounds or doing burpees, but exercise can be a lot of things. Someone with arthritis might not be able to close their hands around a weight or bar, so they might turn to bodyweight exercises that allow them to use their body as resistance. Managing chronic disease with exercise can help in so many ways, so let’s break down a few.

Benefits of exercise

It’s no secret that exercise is a key component to any healthy lifestyle or weight loss transformation, but it actually has a bigger impact than that! Exercise decreases body fat and increases muscle tissue, which means the body becomes more efficient. This efficiency makes the heart stronger, hormones happy and cell function optimal.

Any type of movement, whether it be a walk around the block or a 45minute high intensity workout, is going to benefit us in some kind of way. A walk around the block is going to get blood flowing, increase circulation (which helps with digestion), lubricate the joints, and just get us out of the sitting position humans are always in. A 45 minute high intensity workout is going to increase heart rate (which strengthens the heart muscle), work muscles for strength increase and endurance, burn more calories and tap into stored fat (of which is going to also help burn calories all day because of EPOC), and just allow us to function at a higher capacity.

Exercise can boost your mood! There are certain hormones, called endorphins (hence the name endorphitness), that are released during physical activity and give you a sense of well-being and happiness.  When we begin to exercise, our body sends a signal to the brain that releases endorphins like dopamine and serotonin and we begin to feel happier and have more energy!


Exercise and chronic disease

A chronic disease is a disease that is persistent and comes on with time. It cannot be passed down from person to person and it is a disease that is preventable and curable. It has now been determined that 45% of the US population has a chronic disease, and this is also the first generation (being born now) that are predicted to have a SHORTER lifespan than their parents. That, my friends, is devastating. And the worst part? They are all caused by our lifestyle and can be cured. The US spends approximately $3.2 trillion dollars on healthcare per year. PER FREAKING YEAR! A lot of that has to do with our current medical practices of treating symptoms instead of causes, but also education. Most people have no idea their disease is curable with lifestyle changes, or they know about it but have never been taught what to do. So I want to break down the top 5 chronic diseases and how they can be cured/prevented with lifestyle.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects the joints on both sides of the body. It can be your knees, wrists, hands etc. Autoimmune diseases are caused by decreased immune function, and the body literally attacking itself. It can show up as a number of different diseases/symptoms, but has also recently been determined that there might be a cure. RA is a brutal disease, and those who have it and have experienced a “flare up” know, but it has been researched that gut health, inflammation, exercise and diet all play a role in this chronic disease. So, what could fix it?!


A new light has been shed on mental illness, and the awareness that is being brought to this disease is amazing. We tend to assume anxiety/depression is a choice, or makes us feel “weak,” but instead it has been proven just how damaging this disease can be. Research has also shown that our lifestyle can play a huge role in both the cause, and the treatment of this disease.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is 100% both preventable and curable. Type 2 diabetes is a long-term metabolic disorder that causes high blood sugar, insulin resistance and overall lack of insulin produced. It actually occurs as a result of obesity and lack of exercise, and therefore can be treated by….diet and exercise. 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre diabetes. It’s actually sad that our food industry and our lifestyle habits have done this to our country. We spend more time sitting in front of electronics than we do actually experiencing things. It’s time we start doing something about this epidemic and getting back to our roots of moving and cooking!

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one chronic disease and is the leading cause of death in the world. Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is referred to the narrowing or blockage of blood vessels in the heart. This can lead to things like heart attacks and strokes. Most cases of heart disease are preventable with lifestyle changes like, of course, diet and exercise. If your arteries are closing ( or becoming blocked) it can be because of dietary habits like high cholesterol, or because of a weakened heart muscle from lack of exercise. Again, all of which can be prevented with movement!


Obesity is at an all time high in America right now, 40% of adults and 18% of children. One is considered obese if their BMI is over 30. I don’t necessarily believe this is a great form of measurement because BMI is height and weight and there are other ways to determine obesity rate. Obesity is rising in our country because of our food industry and lifestyle habits. Everything is so readily available for us without lifting a finger; things like grocery delivery, takeout dining and video conferences. Obesity is a chronic disease that is 100% preventable, and it’s time we start doing something about it!


Between exercise and food choices, we could start to lower these numbers and maybe increase the life expectancy of our future generations. It starts with education; teaching about diet and exercise so that there are no blurred lines. Most people with a chronic disease believe it’s “too late” to do something about it, but that is not the case. Movement is medicine and food is fuel, we need to start thinking in this way!

Haley Rowe December 7, 2018