In this installment on physical exercise as therapy to combat diseases, we talk about how sport affects neurodegenerative diseases, anxiety, depression and diseases of the digestive system.
In the two previous articles, we have seen the general relationship between sport and health and how it affects diseases such as heart disease or high blood pressure in one, and how physical exercise influences these other diseases: diabetes, hyperlipidemia, asthma , arthritis, osteoarthritis and cancer.
Physical exercise and neurodegenerative diseases
The moderate and continuous physical activity can help delay the onset of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progressive course of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Parkinson ‘s disease, cerebellar ataxia and some mental illnesses such as severe depression.
In Alzheimer’s patients , apart from the fact that physical exercise slows down the severe progression of cognitive deterioration, it also prevents or reduces the appearance of many complications of the disease such as motor disabilities of all kinds and falls.
Physical exercise in Alzheimer’s patients can last from 150 minutes to as little as 20 minutes 3 times a week.
Moderate aerobic exercises such as swimming, walking, running, and cycling are advised.
Physical resistance exercises such as walking, running, canoeing, swimming and cycling in a natural park are highly recommended because nature favors oxygenation of the brain and accompanied by other people which makes socialization possible.
Strength exercises such as sitting, getting up, going up and down a step, squeezing a tennis ball with one hand, etc.
The exercises fine coordination which does not involve a large group of muscles like painting with pencils, drawings cut, sew or make crocheted, plaited or sorting coins. In the exercises thick coordination involving large muscle groups. These are exercises like bouncing a ball, keeping a balloon or a beach ball in the air, etc. .
Marksmanship exercises are also recommended , throwing various objects into the reception area; the object can be of various sizes and shapes and can be thrown with one or two hands, with the foot and the implement.
After consultation with the neurologist, they can practice team sports such as tennis, basketball, etc., but with care.
Competitive sports and high intensity physical exercise are contraindicated in these patients.
The beneficial effects of physical exercise for patients with neurodegenerative diseases are:
- It improves cerebral circulation and thins the blood preventing clots and thrombi from forming.
- It improves the activity of neurons and reduces neuronal loss.
- Reduces oxidative stress and prevents the degeneration of neurons.
- Improves memory, motor coordination and agility for movements.
Physical exercise to combat anxiety and depression
The practice of sports greatly benefits our mental health because it stimulates the secretion of endorphins which are the hormones that cause happiness, stimulates the secretion of proteins that repair our neurons, regulates the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters and increases cerebral blood flow. With physical exercise we release our nervous tension.
350 million people with depression are known in the world. Anxiety is also very frequent and it is advisable for these people to become fond of sports as a therapeutic tool to overcome their disease.
The most recommended sports are aerobics , swimming is the best sport against anxiety, hiking or walking in nature accompanied by family or friends stimulates the happiness and socialization of these people.
Team sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball and handball are highly recommended because they teach sharing and socializing. Dancing is highly recommended.
Yoga and tai chi that combine physical exercise with relaxation and meditation techniques provide great benefits for these mentally ill patients.
Competitive sports can be practiced with care and always in consultation with the doctor treating the patient.
It is advisable to start with warm-up and stretching exercises, starting with low intensity movements to gradually increase the strength and intensity of the physical exercise.
Physical exercise in diseases of the digestive system
The diseases of the digestive system need to receive the therapeutic benefits of the practice of physical exercise. These include:
- It accelerates the digestive processes and increases metabolism, avoiding the feeling of heaviness after meals.
- It favors intestinal motility, transit through the digestive tract and prevents constipation.
- Improves muscle tone and strength of the digestive tract.
- Reduces stress and digestive discomfort associated with it.
- Improves appetite control caused by hormonal effects which reduces excessive filling of the gastrointestinal tract.
A moderate and not very intense aerobic physical exercise is recommended to regulate the activity of the digestive tract.
People with gastroesophageal reflux should not do vigorous exercise with their abdominal muscles. People with other gastrointestinal disorders such as gastrointestinal ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease … should avoid competitive sports because they can cause complications such as bleeding, etc.
Swimming, walking, moderate hiking, cycling are recommended.
The gymnastics with care not to do exercises that force the abdomen, team sports such as tennis, basketball, etc., can be practiced with care and competitive sports are contraindicated.