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  • Writer's pictureLauren Henry

6 Forms of Exercise Suitable For People With Chronic Illness.

Exercise, exercise, exercise! We’re all being told we need to exercise more in today’s world. Whether we’re getting the message from television, magazines, seeing #fitspo pictures on facebook, instagram, or pinterest, the ideology to be more active has quickly creeped into our society as something you must do in order to be healthy. Don’t get me wrong, exercising is very healthy and I do agree that more Americans should exercise, especially when you consider that 7 in 10 Americans is overweight. But when it comes to chronic illness, intense exercise is not the answer to get someone healthier, in fact it can hinder healing.

Intense exercise like HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), tabata, hot yoga, running, etc. can all be too much for someone who has chronic pain, can’t get out of bed, or gets dizzy and winded easily. The rush of adrenaline that one gets from exercising can be too much for someone with a sensitive nervous system, which many people with chronic illness have, myself included. Even someone who is fairly healthy but has a few chronic symptoms may want to steer away from doing high intensity exercise because the stress and adrenaline could set them back from healing even their minor complaints.

That being said, it is still important for people with chronic illness to get some sort of movement into their day (if they can! I know for some people any physical activity is out of the question) because this gets the lymphatic system pumping. Getting the lymphatic system working is important because the it helps boost the immune system and remove toxins and pathogens from the body. If we don’t get the lymphatic system pumping enough these toxins and pathogens can build up and hinder the lymph systems ability to do it job well.

So what do you do when you have chronic illness but can’t workout like most people? Well don’t worry because below I have listed my 6 favorite forms of exercise for people with chronic illness. 


Walking : Walking is a very underrated form of exercise that can be modified to your needs and abilities. For instance if you are still able to be very active, you may find going for a nice walk in the woods or along a trail going up and down hills and on more difficult terrain is good for you. If you’re not able to be as active then just walking around the block in your neighborhood can be just what you need to get your lymph system pumping. Walking not only benefits the lymph system, but it also has been shown to improve mood and strengthen memory!

Rebounding aka trampolining : Want to feel like a kid again? Get a rebounder (or a trampoline if you really want to have some fun). Jumping on these mini-trampolines quickly and easily gets your blood pumping. They have also been shown to aid in detoxification, circulating more oxygen to the tissues, helping to prevent edema, and more!

Gentle yoga : Doing some light yoga and stretching is another simple and easy way to get the body moving. So often when we are sick, we feel stagnant in our bodies, but yoga and stretching are two really great ways to move that stagnant energy out of the body. Simple neck stretches, forward bends, or downward dog are all beneficial for bringing new life energy back into the body. These movements can give you more energy too because yoga helps to bring more oxygen into the blood.

Gardening : Gardening should not only be seen as a hobby, but also as a form of good light exercise. All of the bending over, digging, weeding, crouching down, mulching takes effort! I have been doing a lot of gardening lately and it really does feel like a workout at times. Gardening is also a wonderful way to be creative, connect with the earth, and to create something beautiful.  

Dancing : Who doesn’t love to dance? When your favorite song comes on the radio, there has got to be some part of you that wants to move and feel the music! Dancing is not only a fun way to easily exercise but it is something that can really make you feel happier and more alive. Dancing is my favorite kind of exercise! You don't have to go to a dance class to get the benefits though, you can simply play a few of your favorite songs at home and dance to them! Something to get you moving a little and feeling more alive. 

Bouncing on an exercise ball: Some of the previous options may still be too much for some people with chronic illness. In that case, bouncing on an exercise ball is a great option for them. All it requires is some simple up and down movements while sitting on an exercise ball to get the lymphatic system pumping well. While doing this, you can hold onto a chair or something to keep yourself stable. Try doing a few minutes of bouncing, whatever feels good, and if you feel you can do more then keep going!

To wrap this up, I wanted to add in that dry brushing and infrared saunas are other great ways to cleanse the body and get the lymphatic system pumping when you cannot do exercise. To find out more about dry brushing and infrared saunas check out these two links - dry brushing & infrared sauna.

Do you have chronic illness and find it hard to exercise? If so i'd love to hear more about it and if you do try and implement some form of physical activity into your life in the comments box below.

Sanding my love and light <3


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