No gain, no pain

Many people believe that exercise and pain go hand-in-hand. And sometimes it's true -- after a good workout, your muscles and joints can be sore for days afterward. It's a good pain, a satisfying pain, but a pain nonetheless.

But you know, pain and exercise do go hand-in-hand, though not necessarily in the way you might think. Exercise has been shown help with pain, particularly of the chronic variety. I'm serious! If you're suffering from chronic pain, a workout routine could be the cure for what ails you. Or, if not the cure, at least a very good treatment.

No gain, no pain

According to this article from Johns Hopkins University, exercise can help with pain in several ways:

  1. It increases your blood flow. So, your muscles receive more oxygen, which helps reduces pain.
  2. It improves your cardiovascular fitness, meaning you won't fatigue as easily.
  3. It improves your muscle tone. This means you are stronger, and less prone to muscle spasms.
  4. It helps control your weight. Those who are overweight feel the effects of chronic pain more severely.
  5. Exercise produces endorphins, which help manage pain and also improve your mood.
  6. You'll sleep better, which will help you feel better overall.
  7. It helps stabilize your serotonin, which can interfere with you levels of serotonin, a pain reliever.

Still, that's not to say you should go out and sign up for a marathon to help manage your arthritis. Exercise is important, but there's no need to overdo it. Gentle exercises that are low-impact are best for those suffering from Chronic pain. Need some suggestions? Here are a few:

  1. Yoga is a great way to stay fit without hurting your body. You'll build muscle, you'll calm your mind and you'll do it all without hurting your joints.
  2. Swimming will not only improve your cardiovascular health, but it will help you build muscle.
  3. If swimming's not your thing, what about aquatic aerobics like aquasize? You'll get the same benefits as swimming with the convenience of group exercise.
  4. Because running is often hard on my knees, I'm a big fan of the elliptical trainer at the gym -- I can get the same benefits of running without hurting my joints, and it burns a ton of calories.
  5. Biking is another good way to reduce the impact on your knees while getting a great workout.
  6. If walking's your thing, try to do it on the treadmill or on grass -- concrete is hard on the knees. And if you have problems with your knees, walking backwards slowly on the treadmill with an incline will help strengthen them.

What ever workout you choose, the important thing is to listen to your body, but listen to your doctor or physical therapist too.

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