Can Exercise and Diets Help with Long-Term Pain?

Can Exercise and Diets Help with Long-Term Pain?

“Keeping active can help people stay at a healthy weight or lose weight. It can also lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, as well as reduce stress and boost mood” – Harvard School of Public Health

The obesity epidemic in the United States has prompted doctors across the nation to remind Americans of the importance of staying physically fit and making time for at least half an hour of exercise a day. Although exercise and diet are indeed vital when it comes to battling obesity and overweight, they are also key strategies to battling long-term pain: an issue affecting 25.3 million Americans every day.

Why Is Exercise So Important?

Some of the most common conditions causing pain include arthritis, fractures, headaches, and oral pain. As noted by the Mayo Clinic, exercise is crucial for conditions such as arthritis, because it increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps boost energy levels. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, weakens muscles and increases joint stiffness. If you have chronic pain, speak to your doctor and/or physiotherapist about an appropriate exercise regime. They can recommend specific activities for your condition. For instance, yoga and meditation have been found to mitigate the misery of headaches and migraines; yoga has also been found to quell lower back and fibromyalgia-related pain. The key is to find a form of exercise that suits your level and interests. Try to do as much as you can without pushing yourself too far.

What Type of Diet Improves Pain?

Increased inflammation is linked to greater pain. Foods that promote inflammation include sugar and high fructose corn syrup, table sugar, trans fats, vegetable oils such as sunflower and corn oil, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats. One anti-inflammatory diet that is often recommended is the Mediterranean diet, which comprises healthy Omega-3-rich fats (sourced from ‘fatty’ fish such as salmon and tuna and extra-virgin olive oil), lean proteins, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Those who are battling nerve pain, meanwhile, may benefit from a specific diet. One study found that by consuming a low-fat, plant-based diet for 20 weeks in addition to a B-12 supplement, pain significantly improved.

Complementary Therapies

Many other therapies have been proven in numerous studies to help quell the pain. These include music therapy, acupuncture, progressive relaxation exercises, Biofeedback, hypnosis, and meditation. Sometimes, pain is best tackled from a multifaceted perspective. It is important for doctors to suggest more than one method if traditional therapies are proving unfruitful.

If you have long-term pain, there is no reason why you cannot continue to enjoy the quality of life. By staying active and reducing your intake of inflammatory foods, you will give your body a fighting chance. Alternative therapies may also be of help to reduce pain as well as stress, which is known to exacerbate pain and stand in the way of positive outcomes.

This article was written by:
Jane Welsh, Freelance Writer