Living with a chronic disease or illness is not easy. From managing symptoms to navigating various treatments, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting. It’s natural to focus on medical interventions and medication as the sole solution for managing these conditions, but exercise is one powerful tool that often gets overlooked. Yes, you read that right. Exercise has been found to have numerous benefits for those living with chronic diseases or illnesses, both physical and mental. In this blog post, we will explore how regular exercise can help improve your overall well-being and empower you in your journey toward better health management.

Benefits of exercise for chronic disease

You may not think that exercise and chronic disease go together. Nevertheless, those who have a chronic condition or disability should be engaging in regular exercise. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Exercise improves your quality of life

Harvard Medical School reports that regular exercise protects against depression, enhances sex life, protects mobility, improves sleep quality and sharpens brain activity.

If you already have a chronic disease or disability, statistics show you’re likely not exercising. According to a study by Oxford University, people with chronic diseases participate in less physical activity than those without a disease. The reasons for this aren’t certain, but researchers note that individuals with chronic conditions have a higher rate of depression or perceive themselves as too sick to be active. While having a chronic condition may reduce the intensity and frequency of your exercise routine, you can still benefit from exercise.

2. Exercise may help prevent additional conditions

Research has shown that daily physical exercise reduces your risk for chronic disease. Given the substantial health benefits of physical activity, people with chronic diseases who remain inactive are at greater health risk from other diseases due to inactivity.

3. Exercise can help you manage the symptoms of your condition

Exercise is an integral part of treatment plans for many chronic conditions. Strength training, flexibility exercises and aerobic exercise can improve your cardiovascular health, muscle strength and joint mobility. It’s also excellent for reducing pain, improving your symptoms and keeping a positive outlook!

Effects on specific chronic conditions

Exercise has a positive benefit for many chronic conditions. Here are just a few examples of how it can help common chronic conditions.


You’re already in pain: how can exercise possibly help? It may sound counterintuitive, but moving helps relieve arthritis pain. According to the CDC, exercise eases arthritis pain and improves the quality of life for the 58 million Americans living with arthritis. Adults living with arthritis can decrease pain and improve function by 40% just by being physically active. Arthritis eases pain, builds muscle strength around joints and lessens stiffness. Those with arthritis should strive for 150 minutes a week of exercise.


Staying active makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which helps manage your diabetes. Regular exercise can help lower blood sugar levels and your risk of heart disease and nerve damage. It will also help you control your weight.

In a Harvard Health study, people with diabetes who walked at least two hours a week were less likely to die of heart disease than sedentary people. Those who exercised three to four hours per week cut their risk even more. Women with diabetes who spent at least four hours a week doing moderate exercise (including walking) or vigorous exercise had a 40% lower risk of developing heart disease than those who didn’t. For people with diabetes, the best time to exercise is one to three hours after eating, when your blood sugar is likely to be higher. If you take insulin, test your blood sugar before exercising.

Heart Disease

It’s an unfortunate reality that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The good news is that increasing physical activity can help prevent and manage heart disease. Regular physical activity helps your heart, lowers your risk of dying of heart disease and reduces your risk of worsening your condition. It also may reduce the risk of a second heart attack in people who already have had heart attacks, according to the American Heart Association.

Being fit or active is associated with a 50% or more reduction in the risk of dying from heart disease. Consult with your doctor before engaging in vigorous aerobic activity.


Asthma affects the airways, making it difficult for those affected to breathe. It sounds counterintuitive to exercise when you have trouble breathing, but exercise can make asthma more tolerable.

Specifically, exercise helps increase your endurance by building up your airways, reduces inflammatory proteins in the airways and improves lung capacity. As a result, exercise can help manage how often asthma attacks happen and how serious they are.

People with asthma benefit from exercises that involve a brief burst of exertion or low-intensity activities that don’t overwork the lungs. Some good options include swimming, walking, biking and short-distance running.

Maxim Healthcare Services provides a range of home healthcare and personal care services across the country. If you need support in managing your chronic condition, Maxim may be able to help! Visit our locations page to find out what services are available near you!