A Naturopathic Approach to Exercise

A Naturopathic Approach to Exercise
By Rachel Yeager
Rachel Yeager is a fourth-year naturopathic medical student at the National University of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Her personal health and healing journey led her to career-switch from journalism to the pursuit of a naturopathic medical doctorate. She plans to use everything she has learned along the way to help others achieve optimal wellness and feel their best.

Exercise Naturopath ND

Why Exercise?

Are you trying to exercise more this year? There are so many reasons to exercise: to achieve health benefits, get clarity/focus, sleep better, lose weight, boost mood, and relieve stress, just to name a few.
Exercise increases blood flow, which can increase healing times from injuries and wounds by allowing the appropriate repair cells to reach the injured area. Exercise increases lymph flow, which drains waste and allows for the proper functioning of cells and organs. Physical exercise is also shown to reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer as well as diseases such as diabetes.1 Exercise also helps builds bone and prevent osteoporosis.

What can an ND offer?

If you are looking for a health care provider to manage your health conditions and also offer safe exercise and dietary recommendations, consider seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND). NDs are uniquely poised to offer personalized recommendations, as they receive training in lifestyle counseling and physical medicine as well as 100-200 hours of nutrition training.

We all know we need to exercise, but it’s often not as simple as that. There are obstacles in the way. A naturopathic approach can explore the barriers keeping you from exercising and address each of your individual barriers.

If you are looking for a health care provider to manage your health conditions and also offer safe exercise and dietary recommendations, consider seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND). NDs are uniquely poised to offer personalized recommendations, as they receive training in lifestyle counseling and physical medicine as well as 100-200 hours of nutrition training.

We all know we need to exercise, but it’s often not as simple as that. There are obstacles in the way. A naturopathic approach can explore the barriers keeping you from exercising and address each of your individual barriers.

What are examples of naturopathic approaches?

For example, if you experience sharp pain in your tendons and ligaments with exercise, a naturopathic physician might recommend starting with non-weight-bearing exercise or swimming. They might recommend increasing vitamin C intake in the form of fruits and vegetables in order to facilitate collagen production, as well as consuming bone broth or taking a collagen supplement, as collagen is the foundation of ligaments and tendons.
If you’re struggling with joint pain all over your body and you’re not recovering well from workouts, a naturopathic physician might rule out rheumatologic conditions and initiate a holistic anti-inflammatory approach.
If you are struggling with having enough energy to exercise, your ND can work with you to investigate the root cause of your lack of energy. They will likely ask about your sleep, stress, your mood, your diet, your bowel habits, evaluate thyroid function, and more.

What are your goals? 
Your ND can also help you meet your specific workout goals. If your primary goal is to build muscle, a naturopathic approach might include recommendations for adequate dietary protein in order to allow for the formation of muscle tissue, and recommendations for heavy-hitter exercises such as squats which build multiple muscles at once.
If your goal is to increase endurance, your ND might help optimize your cortisol levels and improve metabolic health

How to get started?

Consult with your doctor about what exercise is right for you. Research shows that even short bursts of exercise are helpful, and small periods of activity throughout the day add up to have a collective benefit!
Exercise is just movement. Here are some options for ways to incorporate movement in a fun way:

  • Dance throughout the day. Put on your favorite song while you’re cooking or cleaning.
  • Exercise during the commercials while watching TV.
  • If you don’t want to leave the bed, do leg lifts and crunches, or do isometric exercises (simply contracting and holding muscles without moving).
  • If you only have 1 minute to spare in your day, do squats (properly, with your knees aligned over your feet).
  • If you have 5 minutes, go for a walk.
  • If you have 7 minutes, do a 7-minute workout guided by a free phone app.
  • If you have 10-20 minutes, do a free Yoga with Adrienne video on YouTube. Her channel also features yoga videos you can do with your kids!

The benefits of movement are magnified when paired with a healthy diet, so ask your naturopathic doctor about which exercise/movement and diet are right you!
Kyu HH, Bachman VF, Alexander LT, Mumford JE, Afshin A, Estep K, Veerman JL, Delwiche K, Iannarone ML, Moyer ML, Cercy K, Vos T, Murray CJ, Forouzanfar MH. Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. BMJ. 2016 Aug 9;354:i3857. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i3857. PMID: 27510511; PMCID: PMC4979358.

 

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