You should talk with your doctor about being active if you have a chronic health condition like arthritis, COPD, diabetes or heart disease. Your condition may limit your ability to be active in some way, and you may need to work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities.
They may prescribe a Green Prescription which gives personalised support and motivation to help you increase your physical activity levels. This free service provides the guidance to get started and get active, whether you are new or returning to physical activity.
Try to do as much as you can if your condition stops you from meeting the recommended daily activity levels. What's important is that you avoid being inactive. Even just 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.
You might be unsure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you're afraid of getting hurt. The good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity is generally safe for most people, like brisk walking.
Start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity. Cardiac events like heart attacks are rare during physical activity. However the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example you can put yourself at risk if you don't usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
There are many great organisations both regionally and nationally that can provide you with relevant information about your health condition and ideas on how to get more active.
- Hearthelp is a new website created for people living with heart disease. It provides detailed information about heart disease and a guide to improving lifestyles and staying well in the future.
- Diabetes New Zealand has some excellent information about physical activity and Type 2 diabetes including seated activity ideas.
- Arthritis New Zealand offers group exercise classes around Christchurch in Avonhead, Beckenham, Hornby, and St Albans. Call 0800 663 463 to find out about these classes and also their support groups in Christchurch, Geraldine, and Timaru.
- The NZ Cancer Society provides advice on building activity into your day when you have cancer. There is also lots of information on their website about what you can do to help reduce your cancer risk.
- The US National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) has a range of helpful factsheets describing various disabilities and health conditions, and the associated physical activity, exercise, and overall health considerations and recommendations.
- A free eight-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme is available for Cantabrians with long-term chest conditions like COPD. The programme consists of a two-hour session twice a week, and participants are encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible. Contact your GP or other health professional to see you for a referral and to see you are eligible for this programme.