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Exercise is best medicine to reduce inflammation

Friday, March 5, 2021

Millions of Americans suffer from inflammation and may not even know it. But, there’s good news – daily exercise can reduce the effects of inflammation and improve our quality of life.

Ashtabula County Medical Center Sports Medicine and Family Medicine physician Nathaniel Franley, MD, spoke via Zoom recently at Premiere Fitness’ monthly Lunch ‘n’ Learn meeting and noted that 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days a week will lessen inflammation quickly. “No medicine is more powerful than that. It is like an investment in your body. You give the time and your body responds with a healthy return on that investment.”

Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to an illness, infection, or injury. Acute inflammation occurs quickly and resolve themselves in two weeks or less. For example, a person may develop a sore throat from a cold or flu. Skin may become itchy from an allergic reaction to food or something in the air. Chronic inflammation is more serious, because it indicates the likelihood of a disease or injury. It can last six weeks or more, and may show itself as body pain, fatigue or insomnia, depression or mood disorders, stomach issues like constipation or diarrhea or acid reflux, or weight gain. Rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease are common autoimmune diseases that include inflammation as a symptom.

Dr. Franley said doctors now recommend exercise as the best way prevent or slow down the development of inflammation.

“Look at cardiac disease. Inflammation in the arteries can lead to the buildup of plaque. If we wait too late to address it, a patient could have a heart attack or stroke. We need to stay ahead of the inflammation to prevent long-term problems,” he said.

He said there is additional benefits to our health from daily cardiovascular exercise. “We know that daily exercise can lower our risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 40 percent. It improves our heart and can help each of us have a good quality of life well into our 70s and 80s, so we are able to do the things we want to do for ourselves.”

By adding in exercises that build muscle, a person can also lower their risk of diabetes and improve their metabolism to better fight illnesses.

“There really is no way to bypass this,” Dr. Franley said. “Our bodies need that 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week, plus strength training. It’s good for our physical health, our mental health, and our emotional health.”

Premiere Fitness’ next Lunch ‘n’ Learn will be at noon, Wednesday, March 24, featuring ACMC Certified Diabetes Education Specialist Lori Gilhousen, BSN, RN. She will focus on risk and prevention of diabetes.

To learn more about exercises you can do from home, visit and click on the Video link. If you have been inactive or sedentary for a while, talk to a primary care provider to determine any health risks from an increase in exercise. To schedule an appointment with an ACMC primary care provider, call 440-997-6969.