9 Ways People with Celiac Disease can Benefit from Exercise
If you’re feeling down or overwhelmed from dealing with your celiac disease, any type of exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. However, there are many advantages exercise may bring you, both physically and mentally. So, talk to your doctor to find out what is appropriate for your condition and get going!
1. Keep your weight under control
It’s not uncommon for patients with celiac disease to suffer from weight variations, either losing weight due to malabsorption or gaining weight due to a diet rich in processed foods. In either case, regular exercise can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
2. Get stronger muscles
One type of sport in particular — weight training — is ideal to get stronger muscles. As both bones and muscles respond to exercise, this activity also strengthens bones, which make have become weakened by celiac disease. Muscle mass decreases with age and also can be lost due to the malnutrition associated with long-term exposure to gluten in the diet before diagnosis. The best type of exercises include weight-bearing activities that force you to go against gravity, such as lifting weights or climbing stairs.
3. Improve bone health
Osteoporosis and other bone conditions are an unfortunate but common consequence of celiac disease. Again, forcing the bones to work against the force of gravity seems the most effective type of exercise, while swimming and cycling — typically described as non-weight bearing exercises — are less effective for improving bone mass.
4. Improve blood circulation
Besides the well-known impact in bones and muscles, in the long term, exercise can also improve your blood circulation. This includes better circulation reaching the digestive tract, which will significantly contribute to a faster healing process.
5. Improve nutrition
This is a somewhat indirect effect from exercise, but most people that exercise regularly complement their choices with a balanced diet. This is the “halo effect”, and it may just prevent you from reaching for that gluten-free muffin and go for a run instead! Improving your diet by eating nutrient-rich whole foods and targeted nutritional supplementation from CeliVites will go a long way against any nutritional deficiencies you may have developed due to celiac disease.
6. Achieve a balanced lifestyle
A balanced lifestyle is important for everybody, but particularly so for patients that must deal with a condition such as celiac disease. Exercise can be a crucial aspect to maintain this balance, including a way to reach an optimal weight and reduce the risk of developing secondary conditions, and promote healing of the gut.
7. Reduce the risk of depression
Engaging in exercise helps improve self-esteem and reduces the risk of depression. This is a consequence of endorphins released by the brain, which trigger positive feelings and reduce pain. The association of mood disorders and celiac disease is well known. For celiac disease patients, at a higher risk of developing depression and other mood disorders, regular exercise can help reduce stress and decrease anxiety. It could be anything from running and swimming to simply dancing or walking. Just get moving and get that heart rate up.
8. Forget about your condition for a while
Exercise has the magical ability to help you “forget” all your problems, even if just for a short period. Allow yourself to lose sense of time and enjoy the “break from reality”. A daily routine involving some form of exercise can help you to temporarily reduce emotional and physical obstacles, and in the end you get a boost in your energy levels. Many people describe running as a way to clear the mind, and some say they have their most creative thoughts when exercising.
9. Sleep better
Most people who exercise are familiar with the benefits it provides to sleep patterns. Along with the mental benefits from a break for exercise comes a reduction in stress hormones and nervous energy. Less stress and tension means that you can more easily fall asleep and stay asleep longer, so that you will feel refreshed and better able to handle tomorrow’s challenges.
A word of caution
Exercise can bring many benefits, but it’s important to get medical advice before you start any activity. This advice applies to everybody, but in particular to celiac disease patients with symptoms of malabsorption or weakened bones who may require gentler approaches like lower weights when weight lifting or slow incremental increases in duration of aerobic exercise.
Following the advice from your health care supporter, it’s now time to give it a go. The idea of feeling better, eating well and thinking positive sounds very appealing — when are you going to start?