While medical experts generally tell overweight women and men to eat sensibly and exercise, Cushing’s Syndrome carries handicaps that make exercise seem daunting if not pointless. Cushing’s Syndrome is a hormonal disorder in which the adrenal glands release excessive amounts of cortisol. This is not a “bad” hormone because cortisol, in normal conditions, helps the body respond to stress and the adrenal glands release the amount required for daily needs. In those with Cushing’s Syndrome, however, a tumor or prolonged use of cortisone drugs may cause the glands to release too much cortisol. Metabolism is knocked out of balance, blood sugar levels are raised, and weight gain can be excessive. Other symptoms that make attempts to exercise difficult are chronic fatigue, skin that bruises easily, and weakened muscles and weakened bones, because of the elevated levels of cortisol.
The good news is that certain types of exercise are not only safe but beneficial. These exercises can not only help build self esteem, but can also strengthen bones and muscles.
Stepping into a pool to attend a class in water aerobics is a fun, relaxing, and safe way to get exercise. Water aerobics is good for Cushing’s Syndrome patients who must find ways to build endurance. Water aerobics is popular with all people faced with special medical conditions where strenuous exercise may be impractical. Obesity and weakened muscles and bones do not stand in the way of movement with water aerobics because water supports the body in such a way that movements feel effortless.
An instructor guides which movements to make and how. Benefits include exercise of the lungs, heart, and muscles. It’s true that calories are not being burned at a rate typical of running or extreme sweat-inducing sessions on the treadmill, but water aerobics is far more sensible and far less risky for those patients diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome.
Advice does not include strenuous walking but rather taking a gentle stroll each day. Also, experts who are familiar with Cushing’s Syndrome know that depression is common, along with a feeling of just giving up. Walking with a friend can be a positive way of sharing hardships with a good listener. Experts say that a half hour of walking each day can really lift the spirits to a point where the patient feels happy taking the initiative and not just sitting back in despair. Patients who choose walking as their exercise often say they find that walking helps them reduce stress.
As with water aerobics and walking, cycling should be gentle, without over-exertion, without competing for speed, and without trying to navigate steep hills.
Cushing’s Syndrome, given the right medical attention and the right determination to follow advice, can be successfully managed. Medical experts say the right way to exercise in this situation is to start off slowly and try to gradually increase your activity. If you take a daily walk of 20 minutes, try to get it up to 30 minutes or even a little longer.
You know your own limitations the best. If you have any doubts or questions, always ask your medical caregiver. Gradual but progressive increases in exercise can help regain function and a happier feeling of well-being.