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MEDICAL CONDITION TIPS

The Active for Life team have been working closely with various health organisations to bring you top tips for a range of medical conditions. Scroll down to see all the different medical conditions!

ARTHRITIS

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age.

Here are our 3 arthritis tips:

1. Gentle exercise and stretching 

Take time to exercise, stretching both before and after. Exercising and stretching doesn’t have to be at high-intensity levels. Light walks, gardening, housework, swimming, and playing with kids are all forms of exercises. Pace yourself to know your strengths.   

2. Maintain a healthy weight and eat healthy foods 

Be aware of your body, understand what foods are good and bad when managing your arthritis. Nutrition comes hand in hand with exercising. Keep moving! 

3. Protect joints by using walking sticks, medication, support person, or any other assistance required 

Ensure that you have the necessary equipment to assist with your arthritis. Be safe and comfortable when exercising or going out of your comfort zone. Put the correct procedures in place before going out. Take into consideration different environments, time, challenges, and support. Is the surface slippery? What are the conditions outside? How long will you be gone for? Do you need someone to support you while you’re out? 

ASTHMA

Asthma is a condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow, swell, and produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Here are our 3 asthma tips:

1. Follow an Asthma Action Plan 

An Asthma Action Plan is put in place to help stay on top of your asthma. It lets you know what to do when your asthma is going well or when it’s not.  Research has shown that those who follow Asthma Action Plans have better control over their asthma.  

2. Take your medication as prescribed 

Understanding how your medicines or asthma inhalers work is important to stay on top of your asthma. There are different devices to deliver your medicines. If you need help or would like more information on asthma inhalers, please go to:  asthmafoundation.org.nz  

3. Use a Peak Flow Meter 

Using a peak flow meter teaches you how fast you can blow air out and helps you learn the patterns of your asthma. Narrow airways provide lower readings, whereas clear airways will show higher readings. Using the peak flow meter readings along with your symptoms you will be able to decide when to change your treatment by following your Asthma Action Plan. 

COPD (CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISORDER)

COPD is A group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe.

Here are our 3 COPD tips:

1. Give up smoking 

Giving up smoking is crucial to reduce the incidence and effects of COPD, making it the most important step you can take. Every cigarette you smoke adds more damage and makes your condition worse. It is never too late to stop, and there are lots of people and organizations that want to help you. Sometimes it is harder to do it alone, so gather as much help as necessary. 

2. Maintain a good diet 

Although you may lose your appetite if you are breathless, it is important to eat well. With COPD more energy is required by the body for breathing, so you need to alter your diet to allow for this. If you are overweight you will benefit from weight loss to ease the load on your lungs and muscles. For more information on what foods are best to eat, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian. 

3. Keep physically active 

Exercise helps your muscles, joints, and circulation to work as efficiently as possible. Although being somewhat short of breath with exercise is uncomfortable, it is not harmful. When you exercise your muscles regularly, they are able to do more work on less oxygen. Exercise should be enjoyable, so choose something that you enjoy. Walking suits many people with COPD. Swimming or riding an exercycle may be enjoyable ways to exercise both your upper and lower body. Begin at a comfortable pace that enables you to control your breathing, taking as many rests as you need. You can increase your distance or time slowly as your fitness improves. By making it part of your daily routine you will soon notice the benefits.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

high blood pressure is A condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high.

Here are our 3 high blood pressure tips:

1. Eating healthy

A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure. It’s also important for managing hypertension that’s under control and reducing the risk of complications. These complications include heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.

2. Regularly exercise

Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. As a result, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.

3. Reduce alcohol intake  

Regularly drinking alcohol can raise your blood pressure and make it harder for your medications to work. Some risks of drinking with blood pressure medications include severe drowsiness, being more likely to trip or fall, and heart rhythm problems

PARKINSONS

Parkinsons is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors.

Here are our 3 Parkinsons tips:

1. Be Active 

In addition to physical benefits like increased lung capacity, bone density, and overall longevity, exercise has a distinct impact on brain health. Regular aerobic exercise reduces inflammation in the brain, helping to counter the inflammatory signals leading to the development of Parkinson’s.

2. Eat Organic 

Pesticides and herbicides have been heavily implicated in causing Parkinson’s. Researchers have found high levels of pesticides/herbicides in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers, compared to those with regular dopamine levels. But while organic is generally a safer bet than conventional, there are still some pesticides and herbicides farmers can legally use on their crops while hanging onto that organic label. 

3. Reduce Stress 

The most important thing we can do for our long-term health, both physical and cognitive, is to reduce your stress. All stress – physical, emotional, and chemical – causes inflammation and long-term damage throughout the body. Whether you’re seeking Parkinson’s prevention techniques or ways to alleviate symptoms, any of the above dietary and lifestyle practices can have long-term health benefits. Drinking green tea, eating organic, local vegetables, and regular aerobic exercise all significantly reduce the long-term cumulative damage done by stress. 

STROKE

 A stroke is damage to the brain from interruption of its blood supply.

Here are our 3 stroke tips:

1. Follow stroke prevention tips

Stoke is largely preventable yet each year about 11,000 kiwis have a stroke. The number would be more than halved if all the recommended actions to reduce stroke risks were taken in the community.  

2. Use a stroke riskometer app

Stroke Riskometer app is a unique and easy to use tool for assessing individual risk of stroke in the next five to ten years and what you can do to reduce your risk.  

3.  Exercise

Exercise following stroke has beneficial effects not only on movement and balance but on circulation and the health of the heart. The world health organisation’s recommendation of 30 mins of exercise most days is a good place to start.  

KIDNEY DISEASE

Kidney Disease is any condition that affects the functioning of your kidneys.

Here are our 3 Kidney Disease tips:

1. Take good care of yourself.  

Talk to your dietitian about what you need as far as nutrition. Talk to your doctor about beginning an exercise program. Indulge yourself in things that bring you pleasure (healthy things). Listen to relaxing music, read your favourite magazines or go to the movies. It is OK to tell people you are unable to do something because you just don’t feel up to it. You have to take care of you 

2. Find out about your condition 

Knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can about your illness and the treatment you are having. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Keeping your concerns or worries to yourself will only increase your stress levels. Be your own advocate 

3. Find Support 

Talk to a social worker, your GP or a close friend about your fears and concerns. They may be able to find different ways to help you with some of the issues you are having. Find out if there are support groups in your area. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people, keep a diary of your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes writing things down can help you cope with feelings and eventually it makes talking about feelings easier. 

IBS (IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME)

 IBS is an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach, wind, diarrhoea and constipation.

Here are our 3 IBS tips:

1. Try to follow a low FODMAP diet

Following a low FODMAPs diet has been shown to relieve symptoms in 3 out of 4 people with IBS. This is because FODMAPs are not well absorbed in the small intestine, once they reach the large intestine they are fermented by bacteria and gas is produced, in turn bloating occurs. FODMAPs are also osmotic and draw in fluid, resulting in more bloating and cramping.  

2. Stay physically active

There is evidence that being physically active can help relieve symptoms of IBS, as physical activity helps digested food move through the gut, therefore, reducing gas and bloating. 

3. Reduce stress 

The gut-brain connection means targeting the mind through stress management can positively influence perceptions of pain in the gut.

HIGH CHOLESTEROL

High cholesterol is a high amount of cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol can limit blood flow, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It’s detected by a blood test.

Here are our 3 high cholesterol tips:

1. Eart heart-healthy foods

Eat heart-healthy food such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, oily fish, and nuts and seeds. Avoid eating food high in saturated fat such as pies, cakes, and chips.  

2. Try to drink less alcohol

Drink less alcohol as too much can increase LDL cholesterol. 

3. Stay physically active 

Be physically active, aim for 30 minutes per day. This can include walking around the block, gardening, or chores around the house.  

OSTEOPOROSIS

 Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle.

Here are our 3 osteoporosis tips:

1. Men and women are both at risk

Men and women as both effected by osteoporosis however women are at greater risk due to the rapid decline in oestrogen levels after menopause  

2. Eat well and exercise

One way to prevent osteoporosis is to build strong bones throughout your lifetime is to eat well and exercise regularly  

3. Figure out the best exercises

The best exercise for bones are ones that work the muscles against gravity for example – briskly walking, jogging, tennis, dancing and golf. 

INJURY REHABILITATION

Here are our 3 injury rehabilitation tips:

1. Rest and protect the injury 

The first stage of recovery is all about minimising further damage and letting the body begin the healing process. The body’s first reaction to injury is inflammation and pain. The better you can regulate inflammation, control pain, and protect the injured body part to avoid any further damage, then we have begun the recovery process.  This phase will likely include appropriate rest and may include using ice or cold packs, with some sort of protective cast, sling, or tape to safeguard the injury. 

  

2. Recover your motion 

Following injury or surgery,  factors such as swelling and pain can make it difficult to move the injured body part like you used to. Careful soft tissue and joint mobilisation training as prescribed by your physiotherapist is an important part of your rehabilitation to recover early-stage range of motion. Stretching too far or starting an activity too early, can slow or even reverse the healing process.

  

3. Recover strength 

Most people are shocked to discover how their injury and the ensuing recovery period can result in muscle weakness and a loss of endurance. Objective measures of muscle weakness and wasting are commonly noted after injury and surgery within 4-6 weeks. Minimising muscle loss and strength deficits are important rehabilitation goals set in your physiotherapy programme. When sports injuries prevent participation in training and game time for an extended period of time, maintaining cardiovascular endurance is important. Exercises like stationary cycling, pool exercises, or gentle exercise may be recommended.

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