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Exercising When You Have a Medical Condition

Exercising When You Have a Medical Condition

What should you do if you have a medical condition and you want to exercise?
What are some medical conditions that affect physical activity?

Not so long ago, people who had certain medical conditions were discouraged from engaging in physical activity because medical professionals thought that exercise could be harmful. Today, people with chronic, long-lasting problems are often advised to be as active as possible. Exercise is often prescribed like a medication. back to top

What should you do if you have a medical condition and you want to exercise?
If you have a health problem like heart disease, asthma, or obesity, and you want to be more physically active, visit your health professional before you start a new exercise program. He or she can give you information on what kinds of exercises are best for you, how often you can exercise, and what to do if you have a health emergency. back to top

What are some medical conditions that affect physical activity?
Active girls are at risk for getting hurt, whether or not they have a medical condition. Many of us will strain a muscle by overtraining or twist an ankle at some point. If you have a medical condition, you may be more at risk for becoming injured. And some exercises may make your condition worse. The good news is that the benefits of exercise usually outweigh the risks.

Here are some common medical conditions that can affect your ability to exercise:
  • Asthma
    Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways. During an asthma attack, the airways narrow and produce too much mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Exercise is often prescribed for people with asthma to strengthen their cardiovascular system. Swimmer Amy Van Dyken has asthma, but it didn't keep her from winning four Olympic gold medals!

    For some girls, exercise can bring on asthma symptoms. If you get asthma when you exercise during cold weather, you may want to exercise indoors because cold, dry air worsens the symptoms. And breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. Your nose can warm, filter, and add moisture to the air that enters your lungs. Also, taking medication 30 minutes before you workout may help. If you get exercise-induced asthma, talk to your health professional.
  • Cystic fibrosis
    Cystic fibrosis is a disease of the lungs and digestive system. A defective gene causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe. Cardioexercise is recommended for some girls with cystic fibrosis because it has been shown to clear up mucus and help strengthen lungs. Talk with your health professional about exercise if you have cystic fibrosis.
  • Diabetes
    Diabetes comes in many forms, but all girls with diabetes have a problem with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps deliver glucose, your body's fuel, to your blood cells. If you have diabetes, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, use up excess blood sugar, and improve your circulation. Some girls find that exercise reduces their need for insulin. And best of all, exercise can help prevent diabetes. back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/15/2001
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