By Nancy Kalish for
Sure, we all know that physical activity can shape you up and boost your well-being. But if you suffer from high blood pressure, IBS, migraines or gum disease, new research shows that exercise can do so much more for you, improving symptoms or relieving them completely. Don’t suffer from these conditions? Well, certain types of workouts can lower your risk of ever getting them. So here’s how to plan for your next workout. (Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)
If you suffer from … Irritable bowel syndrome
Try … Yoga
A whopping 1 in 5 Americans suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the accompanying stomachaches, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Stress and anxiety make the symptoms worse. There’s no cure for IBS, but new research from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver shows that yoga can lead to major improvement. In the study, subjects were taught how to do yoga and were then given an instructional DVD and told to practice for one hour daily. After just four weeks, their symptoms — and their anxiety — were both significantly reduced, and all the subjects said they would continue to do their sun salutations and downward-facing dog regularly.
Exercise Rx: One hour daily
If you suffer from … High blood pressure
Try … Hiking
Any kind of walking is good for your health. But hiking on uneven, rocky terrain or cobblestones can bring high blood pressure down, according to a new study from the Oregon Research Institute. The researchers theorize that the stones stimulate accupoints on the soles of the feet that reduce hypertension. Hiking also brings on other benefits, including improved balance control and greater feelings of well-being.
Exercise Rx: 30 to 60 minutes, three times a week
If you suffer from … Gum disease
Try … Aerobic exercise
Along with brushing and flossing, you can now add distance-walking, dancing, biking and swimming to the list of ways to keep your gums and teeth healthy. When researchers from Case Western Reserve University examined data on more than 12,000 individuals, they discovered that those who did frequent cardio exercise and maintained a healthy weight were 40 percent less likely to experience gum disease. Another Japanese study published in the Journal of Periodontology came to similar conclusions. According the American Academy of Periodontology, this is just more proof of the connection between oral health and general health, and another good reason to stay in shape.
Exercise Rx: At least 45 minutes, five times a week at a moderate pace, or three times a week at a more intense pace
If you suffer from … Migraines
Try … Biking
Migraine sufferers are often less active than other people because some types of exercise can trigger the blinding headaches. But a recent Swedish study published in the journal Headache found just the opposite. When migraine sufferers were put on a program of indoor cycling for 12 weeks, their headaches were reduced by an amazing 90 percent. In fact, of all the subjects in the study, only one had a migraine during the entire three months.
Exercise Rx: 40 minutes, three times a week