As hard as it has been dealing with the largest global pandemic in modern history, there are a number of silver linings to be found in the time of coronavirus. People are spending more time with loved ones, picking up new hobbies, and many have renewed their interest in exercise.
Over the years, there have been some misconceptions about exercise, mainly its relationship with pain and its effects on the body. Between various fitness fads coming and going over the years, clickbait-y interpretations of medical research, “bro science” in gyms, and other false or misleading health info on the internet, you can quickly develop a negative view of exercise. While any physical activity can be associated with aches and pains and occasional musculoskeletal issues, in general the benefits of movement far outweigh any of the negatives. At Ridge Rehab and Chiropractic, we place an emphasis on patient education and feel blogs like these are a good place to start.
Myth #1 – “Exercise is only for putting on muscle or losing fat. I don’t care about either of those so I don’t need to exercise.”
Many people think the only reason to exercise is to look better or pack on muscle. While these are some of the most common reasons for exercise, and are indeed beneficial when it comes to our health, it is isn’t the where the benefits of exercise end.
Exercise is also one of the most extensively researched interventions for decreasing pain. For example, this study found that the more active older adults were, the better their bodies were at dealing with pain. In simple terms, people who moved more ended up with bodies that were more efficient “pain killers”. This paper from a few years back shows effectiveness for exercise as an intervention for all sorts of musculoskeletal issues. This has been common knowledge for many medical providers for a long time, and is the reason why Chiropractors and Physical Therapists incorporate movement and corrective exercises into treatment plans for patients dealing with pain.
Along with affecting pain, we also have proof that exercise can help with other aspects of our health such as depression and anxiety. That paper found that exercise had “a positive effect of exercise on anxiety and depression… not less effective than pharmacological or psychotherapeutic treatments.” If you are someone who deals with anxiety or depression, exercise needs to be part of your daily or at least weekly routine.
In addition, there is also evidence that exercise should be involved in the treatment, or utilized in the prevention of of things such as heart conditions, metabolic and inflammatory diseases, and is even associated with helping us live longer!
Myth #2 – “Exercise will wear down my body and wear out my joints.”
This is a myth that has unfortunately been promoted by doctors and medical professionals for a long time. Nowadays, we understand that this isn’t exactly the case and that the body is very adaptable and can respond in various ways to different stimuli.
For example, we know if we lift weights we get stronger, if we run our cardiovascular system becomes more efficient, etcetera. This is not new information. However there have been countless studies demonstrating more interesting adaptations in humans, and showing that the opposite of “wear and tear” occurs with exercise. This study on runners actually showed that they had a lower incidence of meniscal tears compared to those who don’t run. Another Study has showed that higher intensity activity was associated with BETTER disc health on MRI’s, not worse! We also have research, such as this paper, showing the effects of heavy weightlifting improving the bone density in patients with osteoporosis! As you can see the relationship is not always “running or weight lifting = arthritis or injury.”
Myth #3 – “Exercise will leave me in pain or even worse, give me some sort of new chronic pain!”
As I mentioned before, it’s possible to injure yourself exercising, just as its possible to sprain an ankle walking down the street, or to develop pain from sitting at your desk. Exercise has the reputation for causing pain, but there is actually evidence showing a reduction in chronic pain in older and younger people who exercised recreationally.
The info can be found here. This also showed that the more often, the longer, and the harder you exercise, the greater the positive affect on chronic pain.
Of course we need to be sure that we know what we’re doing when it comes to certain exercises. You may need help from a Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, or fitness professional from time to time to help you with aches and pains or to improve your performance, but we need to change the narrative that exercise wears out our bodies. The information above is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the researched benefits of exercise. Even just looking at the handful of links in this blog should be ample evidence for the “pros” outweighing the “cons” of movement and exercise. Be a “movement optimist” and get out and get active! As always if you need any help, contact us at Ridge-rehab.com or 847-796-0224. We’d love to help!
— Dr. Gavin