Inflammation can be uncomfortable and even painful. It can also bring a host of other symptoms, including pain in the chest or abdomen, fatigue, stiffness in the joints, and digestive distress. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, it may seem like there isn’t an escape. However, it is possible to reduce inflammation with exercise.
Identifying Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is either acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is associated with recent injury or disease, bringing the characteristic redness, swelling, heat, pain, and tenderness we associate with inflammation. This response occurs as the body sends blood and white blood cells to a compromised area to accelerate the healing process.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is often more difficult to pinpoint. Sometimes called systemic inflammation, the condition arises when the body sends out inflammatory cells in the absence of illness or injury. This can be the effect of an autoimmune disease like lupus or EOE or other conditions with both autoimmune and immune-mediated pathogenesis, as is the case with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s or rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammation is considered chronic when it persists for months or more. Often, such a condition leads to other conditions, including diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer.
Reduce Inflammation with Exercise
For those fighting chronic inflammation, it may feel like analgesics and narcotics are the only hope for relief. Fortunately, that is not the case. Exercise is a natural and holistic way to reduce inflammation without putting a strain on the paycheck. The research behind exercise’s benefits is sound, and perhaps the best news is that the workout doesn’t need to be extreme.
Intense exercise can be intimidating for those suffering from chronic inflammation, a promise of only more pain. However, while exercise is beneficial to relieve inflammation, it doesn’t have to be intense to be effective. Data from a 2017 study conducted by the University of California, San Diego indicated that moderate exercise for as little as 20 minutes can produce an anti-inflammatory cellular response.
If you are looking to reduce inflammation and find relief from pain, consider these moderate exercises:
Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that has been shown to reduce disease activity and improve immune functions in addition to improving cardiovascular fitness. The aforementioned UCSD study analyzed the effects of moderate treadmill exercise over 20-minute intervals and found that the exercise mitigated inflammatory potential and left participants feeling reduced pain.
Cycling is a form of moderate-intensity exercise which can also help reduce inflammation. Similar intervals as those studied for walking (five minutes of warm up, five minutes of cool down, and 20 minutes of cycling at a moderate intensity) have been shown to attenuate inflammatory responses.
Spending time on a traditional bicycle or stationary bike encourages the body’s production of cortisol, adrenaline, and growth hormone, the body’s natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Biking can also result in fat loss and improved levels of myokines, anti-inflammatory proteins produced in the muscles.
Harvard researchers have found that consistent yoga slows cellular aging. A 2010 study indicated that women who regularly practice yoga had lower levels of cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6, an important part of the body’s inflammatory response) in their blood. This was true both before the introduction of stress and during the stress response. The study focused on the exercises possible for both beginners and experts to complete, so even those who have little to no experience with yoga can find relief.
Long-term resistance training can lower levels of inflammation specific to the deep tissues. The key is to allow sufficient recovery between training sessions so as not to aggravate the inflammation. An added bonus is that fatigue, which is often associated with such inflammation, is also reduced, giving you more pep in your step.
While there is much room for more research on the effects of swimming, current data indicates that swimming reduces inflammation and peripheral neuropathic pain. It is also known to lower stress levels and boost an individual’s mood. It is a particularly good choice if you suffer from severe pain, as it is perhaps the lowest-impact exercise on this list.
Finding Relief with Utah Sports and Wellness
While exercise is an excellent way to find relief from inflammation pain, it is not the only way. The foods you eat can also reduce inflammation. Foods rich in Omega-3 like salmon or nobiletin like oranges help boost cytokine levels so your body can fight back. Other foods like kefir, turmeric, or real chocolate can do the same. Whether you need help finding the right wellness routine or the perfect exercise schedule to kick inflammatory pain to the curb, Utah Sports and Wellness is here for you.