Exercise can help promote the health of your bodily systems, and can assist with wound healing.

Although most chronic wounds require hydrocolloid, collagen dressing or the like, an increasing body of research has shown that exercise may help wounds heal more quickly, regardless of their size.

The Data

Wounds are often an effect of some body systems not functioning properly or to their full potential. However, exercise, in addition to eating a well-balanced diet, can help to alleviate these “hiccups” in your body’s systems, making the entire system stronger.

“Exercise strengthens the entire human machine – the heart, the brain, the blood vessels, the bones, the muscles,” Dr. Timothy Church explained in USA Today. “The most important thing you can do for your long-term health is lead an active life.”

Likewise, a study conducted at Ohio State University found that individuals can help wounds heal much more quickly – among study participants, wounds healed an average of 10 days faster than they did in the past. For the study, all participants were given a puncture wound, which was photographed throughout the study. Participants in the exercise group were asked to complete a 10 minute warm up followed by 30 minutes of jogging or pedaling on a stationary bike, then ended with a strength training or power walk and a cool down.

Intriguingly, study participants in the exercise group, in addition to having quicker wound healing rates, also had a sharp rise in their cortisol levels. However, those participants who were part of the exercise group did not feel any higher levels of perceived stress throughout the process, despite their “stress hormone” – cortisol – levels being higher.

“The stress of exercise may enhance the regulation of cortisol,” Dr. Charles Emery, a professor of psychology at OSU, explained in a press release. “This increase in cortisol levels may represent a biological pathway by which exercise helps wounds heal.”

Some participants saw wound healing times speed up by as much as 25 percent. Although the study was conducted solely on senior individuals – all participants were between the ages of 55 and 71 – Emery and associates believe that these results provide a good base for further studies on different demographics.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to document this kind of enhancement associated with exercise,” Emery explained.

Current State of Exercise

While some individuals who are prone to chronic wounds may be nervous to begin an exercise regime, recent data shows that most people are not getting the recommended amount of exercise to begin with. According to USA Today, only about 21 percent of the general adult population in the United States gets the daily recommended amount of exercise, which is about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week. In line with the exercises performed in the OSU study, the federal government recommends a mix of cardio and strength training exercises.

Before starting any exercise regime, it is important to speak to your clinician to decide which activities will work best with your condition.

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