Exercise can help reduce chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. The pain may feel sharp or dull, causing a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be steady or intermittent, coming and going without any apparent reason. Chronic pain can occur in nearly any part of your body. The pain can feel different in the various affected areas.
Depending on your current state of health, exercise may help decrease inflammation, increase mobility, and decrease overall pain levels. Try a combination of the cardio, relaxation, stretching, and strength exercises below and you may feel some of your pain ease away over time.
- Walking – Walking 30 minutes 3 to 5 times per week can help increase strength, endurance, and heart health. If walking is challenging for you, start slow and work your way up to longer walks as you get stronger. If you use a walker or a cane, make sure to take it with you.
- Yoga – To ease chronic pain, proper breathing techniques practiced in yoga might be just as helpful as the stretching and strength components that you will learn, German researchers have found. Plus, studies show that acceptance- and mindfulness-based meditation practices, which can help you acknowledge and accept your chronic pain, can be practiced alongside yoga to ease pain.
- Swimming and water aerobics – This is an excellent alternative to walking for people with mobility issues. This low-impact cardiovascular exercise can help keep you moving without putting added stress on your joints and muscles. Swimming can often be therapeutic, and it’s a great way to clear your mind.
- Pilates – Pilates can do more than just strengthen the mind and body. In one recent study, Italian researchers found improved core strength and stability, posture and balance, and fewer pain symptoms in people with lower back pain who took Pilates classes three times a week for 14 weeks. In an earlier 2015 study, the same researchers found that engaging in Pilates reduced back pain more than other interventions using minimal physical exercise. But just like yoga, Pilates generally requires instruction, so be sure to seek an experienced teacher to guide you.
- Strength Training – Strength training isn’t just for body builders. Muscle strengthening exercises and resistance training can help you control chronic pain by strengthening the muscles around the joints, which takes some of the stress off the joint when in use. Strength training doesn’t always have to involve lifting heavy weights– just using your own body as weights can be very beneficial. Be sure to heed the advice of a physical therapist or personal trainer experienced in dealing with people suffering from chronic pain before starting any strength training regimen.