Exercise is vital to our physical and emotional
health. Exercise can improve quality of life, decrease
pain, improve muscle tone and posture, increase
strength and stamina, and improve circulation and
respiration. Exercise has been shown to reduce
blood fat levels by changing large blood fat globules
into smaller ones that move easily through the
bloodstream and are less likely to clog arteries.
Exercise is also good for the mind. It invigorates and
energizes to help relieve tension and anxiety.
Types of Exercise
There are several different types of exercise and a
good workout routine usually will include: isotonic,
stretching, aerobic and anaerobic exercises.
Isotonic exercises include weight training, stretching
and yoga, which develop muscle strength and
flexibility. This form of exercise is essential for toning
muscles and building strength.
Aerobic exercise refers to sustained movement that
increases the amount of oxygenated blood carried
to your muscles and organs. Any activity that
increases your breathing and heart rate (pulse) are
aerobic. Examples of aerobic exercise include running,
jogging, fitness walking, jumping rope and cycling.
Stationary bicycles, ellipticals and StairMasters are all
aerobic fitness machines. When performing these
types of exercise, you should maintain a training
level heart rate for fifteen minutes or longer in order
to receive maximum results. (See the chart on the
back page to determine the ideal heart rate for your
age group.) Aerobic exercise improves the respiratory
and circulatory systems. It strengthens the
heart muscle, makes arteries and veins more elastic
and lowers blood fat and body fat levels.
Aerobic exercise is the best type of activity to reduce
pain, since it improves circulation and respiration.
Another type of exercise is Pilates (Proximal
Integrating Latent Agile Toning Exercise). Pilates is a
method of stretching and strengthening the body.
Though it is a physical activity, Pilates is not a
cardiovascular (heart and circulation) workout.
Pilates can be done in addition to aerobic exercise
and resistance training. Similarly, tai chi, a Chinese
martial arts exercise, stimulates nerves, lowers blood
pressure and relieves stress while gently toning
muscles without strain.
Anaerobic exercise is the opposite of aerobic
exercise and is characterized by short bursts of
energy. Sprinting is an example of an anaerobic
exercise. Although anaerobic exercise does develop
muscle strength, it does not improve circulation and
The four types of exercises – isotonic, stretching,
aerobic and anaerobic – are all important in the
development of a good workout routine.
Exercise to Treat Your Type of Pain
Arthritis pain can improve with a good exercise routine.
Arthritis is defined as a group of diseases that
affect joints or their component tissues. Rheumatoid
arthritis causes changes in the joint structures,
which increasingly impair and limit motion. Degenerative
arthritis is an aging process that often becomes
apparent after the age of 40 or following injury or
certain conditions. Exercise is helpful in managing
arthritis pain. It increases blood flow to the affected
joints and keeps them flexible. It also increases the
available oxygen, which promotes mineral absorption
by the bones. Swimming as part of a physical
therapy program, for instance, is a great exercise for
those with arthritis.
Back pain is another type of pain that occurs as either
a degenerative problem or a hereditary disease.
Stresses on the body caused by obesity, injury,
improper lifting, poor posture, age or a sedentary
lifestyle can increase back pain. Herniated discs
and degenerative disc disease are common organic
causes of back trouble. When people take prolonged
bed rest after a back injury, it can weaken the body’s
natural ability to fight off pain and rehabilitate
painful areas. Exercise, on the other hand, can lead
to weight loss, which will decrease pain and stress
to the spine. Exercise strengthens muscles, helping
relieve pain caused by injury or strain.
Neuropathic pain is shooting pain that extends
along one or more nerve paths. This type of pain is
usually described as being sharp, burning, sudden
and intermittent. Sometimes infections or other
diseases can damage the peripheral nerves (those
outside of the spinal cord) and may cause some form
of neurogenic pain. Desensitization through physical
therapy and stretching exercises can help with
Migraine headaches are a type of vascular headache
caused by overstrained blood vessels in and around
the head. A moderate aerobics program can lessen
the frequency and intensity of migraines.
Malignancy (cancer) pain can be reduced by exercises
that promote relaxation, which can reduce stress and
tension, helping alleviate pain.
Musculoskeletal pain occurs in our body’s complex
system of bones that are bound together by ligaments
and are moved, supported and protected by muscles.
These bones meet at joints, which are enclosed in
sleeves of tough, fibrous tissue that secrete a special
lubricant called synovial fluid. The ends of the bone
are protected by smooth yet tough cartilage. Exercise
strengthens supportive muscles that hold weakened
bones and ligaments in place. Exercise that reduces
weight will decrease musculoskeletal pain.
Psychogenic pain can be caused by depression,
anxiety, trauma or unresolved grief. Aerobic exercises
such as walking or bicycling, which increase heart
rate and circulation, can improve a person’s sense of
well-being and decrease psychological pain.