Can Exercise Accelerate Wound Healing?
Rowing machines are a great low-impact exercise ideal for receiving physical activity during wound treatment.
During the recovery process of wound care, participating in physical activity can often be the last thing on your mind. Lifting weights, going for a jog or cycling through the city is easier said than done when dealing with a significant injury. But when it comes to wound treatment, nothing can stimulate the healing process like a quick workout. Let’s take a look at how exercise can be an excellent source for alleviating your wound and the best forms of physical activity to participate in while nursing an injury.
How can exercise help?
It is common knowledge the faster an injury heals, the less chance of a wound infection occurring. Performing physical tasks each day will stimulate immune activity in your body through a number of ways. First off, exercise is proven to boost immune function and produce anti-inflammatory effects within the body according to the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. This is due to the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines that are produced during a workout, which are essentially small proteins that assist in cell signaling to help build and repair muscle tissue.
Various studies have been conducted to help cement this correlation. Researchers from Ohio State University first explored how exercise is able to accelerate wound healing stages. To their surprise, it was found physical activity can cause an increase in cortisol levels, a hormone that is often produced through stress and routinely considered an enemy to good health because of its association with lowering immune function and increasing symptoms of depression. Previous studies have reported that exercise can lower your production of cortisol; however, the researchers noticed a significant increase in cortisol levels in their participants who engaged in various exercises. The spike in cortisol production was also linked to subjects having a quicker wound healing time, with daily intervals of exercise leading to a 25 percent faster treatment process for the participants.
Another study explored the role of exercise in decreasing inflammatory activity with damaged skin tissue, a dynamic that was not fully answered with the previous examination. Researchers from the University of Illinois tested the exercise-healing relationship by analyzing how moderate physical activity during the wound recovery process by accelerating blood flow which prompted immune cell activity while reducing inflammatory responses at the same time. The colleagues also believed exercise was able to reduce hypoxia in a wound, which is when a body is experiencing low-oxygen conditions that can slow down healing stages.
K. Todd Keylock, now a professor at Bowling Green State University and a lead contributor in the study, elaborated on how exercise can speed up wound healing because of decreasing inflammatory activity, which is a key component to slowing down treatment.
“The key point of the study is that moderate exercise sped up how fast wounds heal,” Keylock said in a statement. “The thought is that the exaggerated inflammatory response slows the healing process. And if exercise can help decrease the amount of inflammatory cytokines put out by macrophages maybe that would help decrease the inflammation, and therefore, speed healing.”
Which exercises are best?
When engaging in physical activity, you will need to accommodate your wound with specific exercises that won’t hinder the injury. For instance, if you have an ankle or foot wound, running probably isn’t a suitable solution. Low impact exercises such as swimming and cycling are the best when dealing with lower limb or foot injuries, because minimal pressure is applied to the wound while still achieving cardiovascular activity. Rowing machines are an excellent source of physical activity that can build endurance and stimulate blood flow while dealing with a hurt leg or knee. Simply spending at least 30 minutes exercising a day for three to five days can vastly increase your wound care productivity and get you back on your feet in no time. But remember never start an exercise program before talking with your healthcare provider.