Exercise Improves Your Outcome for These 10 Diseases

Most of us know regular exercise can prevent all types of diseases and conditions. But that doesn’t mean we follow through. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Exercise, more than 80% of adults and adolescents do not meet the recommended amount of regular physical activity. If we know exercise can prevent health issues and we still don’t do enough, maybe a diagnosis will force us to take our health seriously. Time to pay attention, because the following 10 diseases have a more positive outcome with regular physical activity.

1. Breast cancer

Woman holding a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon

Make sure you’re exercising regularly to avoid cancer. | iStock.com/And-One

According to a recent review, regular exercise reduces the chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer and its recurrence. Plus, it increases survival rates for those already diagnosed.  It’s highly recommended those with breast cancer consult their physician about how much physical activity they can handle, but more and more research is showing increasing physical activity after a diagnosis can reduce the risk of recurrence and death. It’s also worth noting no one knows exactly how much of an effect exercise has due to the varying cases of breast cancer.

2. Parkinson’s disease

doctor talking to a male patient in an exam room

Exercise can help alleviate Parkinson’s symptoms. | iStock.com

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation explains this disorder is progressive and affects the central nervous system. Ultimately, it may start with small, easy-to-ignore signs, but eventually progresses into a person being unable to control their normal movements. So, it seems to make sense that exercise is one of the top ways to alleviate symptoms.

Notably, the National Parkinson Foundation says exercising a minimum of two-and-a-half hours a week is known to enhance quality of life and is essential in disease management. However, there is no cure for Parkinson’s.

3. Multiple sclerosis

The anatomy of a brain

MS symptoms can be handled with exercise. | iStock.com

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, exercise is an essential part of handling MS symptoms. The condition affects the central nervous system in a way that impacts the flow of information inside the brain and the cues between the brain and body. Physical activity and exercise is known to enhance the overall quality of life by boosting cognitive function and enhancing mood. The organization suggests that those with MS consult a physical therapist to help determine the best type of exercise.

4. Depression

Man lost in depression

Feeling down? Try some light exercise to boost your mood. | iStock.com

Although depression can vary quite a bitMayo Clinic reports research shows exercise increases a patient’s overall outlook on life. As for why this is, it’s kind of fuzzy. It seems to be based on how exercise affects the body as a whole. When we exercise, our body releases feel-good brain chemicals, reduces immune system chemicals, and increases our body’s temperature — these benefits can reduce anxiety and help calm patients with depression.

5. Colorectal cancer

 A doctor goes over a patient's x-ray

This cancer is one of the most deadly, so do some preventative care. | American Cancer Society/Getty Images

Colorectal cancer is one of the most deadly types if not treated, but there’s also plenty of research suggesting regular workouts can help. The National Cancer Institute states those who are most active have a lower risk of developing colon cancer than those who are typically inactive.

The same positive outlook carries over for people who already have colorectal cancer, too. According to research highlighted on Medscape, moderate daily activity was associated with a 16% reduction in the disease’s progression and a 19% reduction in mortality.

6. Heart disease

doctor in a white coat holding a symbol to indicate heart health

Exercise keeps the heart healthy. | iStock.com

Your heart is pretty much your most important muscle, and keeping it healthy plays a major role in your overall well-being. Heart disease develops from plaque buildup thickening and stiffening the artery walls. And the major causes of this are an unhealthy diet, being overweight, smoking and (dun, dun, dun) a lack of physical activity. On the flip side, MedlinePlus says exercise can greatly enhance the lives of those with heart disease. It’s extremely important to start slow with your workouts, though — exercising to the point of gasping for air is a huge no-no.

7. Diabetes

Doctor ready to administer a shot

Even if you already have diabetes, physical activity can help. | iStock.com

There are many ways to reduce your chances of being diagnosed with diabetes. But if you already have it, know physical activity can improve your outcome. The American Diabetes Association notes that when people who have diabetes are active, their cells become more sensitive to insulin, which means they’re better able to remove glucose from the blood. Enough regular exercise may even allow those with diabetes to take less medicine.

But don’t take this as a green light to stop taking your prescriptions. It’s recommended regular exercise also be accompanied by meal planning and taking medications as prescribed by your doctor.

8. Arthritis

Man stretching before a run

Exercise can help reduce your arthritic pain. | iStock.com

Feeling stiff or achy would probably cause most people to sit and relax. If you have arthritis, though, that’s the last thing you should do. According to the Arthritis Foundation, exercise is actually the best non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement. Flexibility exercises can help with joint pain and stiffness while aerobic activity will help manage weight and build stamina. It’s also a good idea to consult with a physical therapist to learn about what else could be beneficial.

9. Asthma

Asthma patient inhaling medication for treating shortness of breath

Getting physically active can help with asthma. | iStock.com/zlikovec

Exercise does help those with asthma; however, this is only recommended for those who have it under control. For instance, if you have exercise-induced asthma, some adjustments will need to be made. But many people with asthma can actually reap some pretty great benefits by managing symptoms through physical activity, according to Livestrong.com. The largest benefit of exercise for those with asthma is the strengthening of the lungs, which increases oxygen intake and will help them breathe better, and not just while exercising.

10. Endometrial cancer

Couple talking to a doctor

Your risk will be reduced for this cancer if you exercise. | iStock.com

This disease occurs when cancer cells grow in a woman’s endometrial tissues, which line the uterus. Once again, exercise is helpful. Some research suggests physical activity can reduce a women’s risk of developing endometrial cancer by 21%. In addition to reducing the chances of developing the disease, a study published in 2014 has also shown there are benefits for endometrial cancer survivors. The study concluded that exercise improves quality of life and mental health for those who’ve dealt with the disease.