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September is Go4Life Month

Walking for Health (NIA)

September is Go4Life Month to celebrate the benefits of physical exercise for older adults to prevent diseases and to prolong life.

Sometimes it seems too difficult to get motivated to start a physical exercise regime, but in truth if you build your exercising around things that interest you then it will all seem like fun.  The truth is you do not have to go to a gym, but in your own home and with friends or family members you can really enjoy yourself.

Exercise with Chronic Diseases

Many people think if they have a chronic disease they must not exercise, but in truth physical exercise may actually help to improve your health. The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor about whether or not it is safe for you to do physical exercise and how much you should do every day.

Consult your Doctor

First of all, with your doctor bring up any particular health problems you may be having, especially if they are new symptoms. Even if you think that something is nothing to worry about, mention it to your doctor. Then ask your doctor questions about whether or not you should do exercises and how often.

Here are Some Questions to ask your Doctor:

What kind of exercises should I avoid?

Depending on your health condition, your doctor may recommend or prohibit certain kinds of physical exercises.

Are there any diagnostic medical tests I should do first?

If you are a woman over age 65 you should be screened regularly for osteoporosis, Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, thins them and makes them break very easily. Many times people do not know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone.

Physical Exercise and Heart Disease

If you suffer from heart disease, consult with your doctor about what kind of exercises are best for you. In general, most doctors recommend regular physical exercise to keep the heart healthy, but may caution against over exertion and exercising to the point of exhaustion, as some people can get a heart attack from too much strenuous exercise. In general, it is better to walk briskly for 10 minutes, rest a bit and then walk for another 10 minutes, than to run and get out of breath, which may not be good for the heart. In fact, even healthy young people in their prime, sometimes collapse and die while participating in sports, races or military exercises.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is bad for the heart and all the good you do for your body with moderate exercise cannot undo the damage of smoking, so try to quit.

Lose Weight

Also, try to lose weight if you have too much poundage. The heart has to work harder to support all that extra weight and you can also get type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes and Physical Exercise

Exercise and controlling your weight can help prevent, control or even reverse type 2 diabetes. See our blog post from August 10, 2018, about how losing weight can cause type 2 diabetes to go into remission.  Work your way up gradually until you exercise half an hour a day. The best thing to do is to put away your car and start walking. It is really healthier than too much sitting.

Exercise and Arthritis

Exercise is very important with arthritis, especially osteoarthritis because you have to exercise to keep the joints open. Otherwise the joints fill with calcium and you can lose mobility.

Stretching flexibility exercises are especially useful for arthritis. If the joint is painful then gently stretch and stop, stretch and stop, etc. until the joint stops hurting. Do not try to force open a painful joint.

With arthritis it is also important to do exercises to strengthen muscles, as they support and protect the joints.

Swimming and water therapy (aquatic therapy) are the best exercises for arthritis because the water lifts weight off the joints and it is far easier to exercise without pain, while in the water.

Heat and Castor Oil

If your joints are very inflamed and painful try using a hot water bottle and castor oil packs. Castor oil is very anti-inflammatory. Take a piece of cotton flannel and fold it into 3 layers. Sprinkle castor oil over the flannel until it is covered with castor oil (not dripping) and also massage it into your painful joint. Keep a hot water bottle on it for at least an hour.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

You can also massage extra virgin olive oil into the painful joint and also include it in your diet. Researchers led by Dr. Gary K. Beauchamp discovered that extra virgin olive oil has a substance in it called oleocanthol, which acts like the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen in stopping pain and inflammation. Unlike ibuprofen, extra virgin olive oil has no dangerous side effects. This was published in the Nature Journal, September 1, 2005. Also, whereas using ibuprofen can lead to heart failure, extra virgin olive oil protects the heart. You may be able to do exercises if the swelling goes down or you may simply have to temporarily stop exercises.

Ice Packs

Some people get more relief from ice packs rather than heat. Check with your doctor.

Exercise and Osteoporosis

Weight-bearing exercise is what is usually recommended for osteoporosis like dancing, walking, jogging and playing tennis. You should also make sure that your blood level of Vitamin D is sufficient. A simple blood test can give this information and if you are deficient in Vitamin D you should supplement with Vitamin D baby drops, according to the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages have also been shown to be risk factors for osteoporosis so quit.


When choosing a skilled nursing and rehab care center for your loved one, make sure to choose a facility that puts emphasis on good nutrition, physical exercise and recreational activities like the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Brooklyn Hospitals Near Ditmas Park Rahab and Care Center

New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)

SUNY Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital of Brooklyn

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County

Maimonides Medical Center


Having a chronic disease should not stop you from getting enough physical exercise. On the contrary, exercise has been associated with an improvement in many chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.




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