Effects of Exercise on Pathology

Published on August 16, 2017 by arothstein

Shot of a senior woman using weights with the help of a physical


When we drill down to what causes disease, we often consider the health of our organs and tissues and the production and distribution of bodily fluids. That’s why pathology is linked so closely to the effects of exercise.

Pathology is the study of disease. While the term pathologist may bring to mind your favorite crime or courtroom drama, these medical professionals aren’t just responsible for autopsies. In fact, they work mostly with living patients. Pathologists study the causes, origin, nature of disease, and they diagnose and monitor chronic illnesses in patients. Pathology also is defined as the abnormalities found in our bodies, such as in cells and tissue, that characterize a disease.

Chronic Disease, Exercise, and Pathology

Dozens of chronic diseases can result from a steady lack of exercise, most notably heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The pathologies of these and other chronic diseases are often affected by lack of exercise. For example, arthritic joint pain can be affected by weight gain.  Inflammation or unbalanced hormone levels are major culprits of many chronic diseases, too. To link these issues to lack of movement, pathologists may look at the timeline of when and how pathologies developed and how it relates to a patient’s recent or overall physical activity.

But while a sedentary lifestyle can have damaging effects, getting more active—no matter someone’s age or weight—can help defend or delay the onset of an illness. For those with (or prone to) heart disease, doctor-approved exercise can reduce weight and lower cholesterol. In asthma, exercise can lower the frequency and severity of an attack. Exercising can help diabetics lower blood sugar, control weight, and boost energy. And those with arthritis who exercise regularly may see reduced pain and stiffness and increased muscle strength. New pathology studies even show that exercise can boost brain health, preventing or slowing progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Aging, Exercise, and Pathology

Many chronic illnesses hit us as we age. But what if we could slow down the aging process? New studies show that exercise can help with this, specifically research about telomeres, which are described as protein caps on the end of DNA. The longer they are, the longer someone may live. A May 2017 Time magazine article reports that exercise contributes to the length, and therefore the health, of telomeres. And if the cells that could cause serious diseases or premature aging are in better shape, we are too. It’s clear from these studies, then, that exercise can affect us at a chemical and cellular level, something we may not immediately associate with jogging.

The effects of exercise on pathology—or, rather, the lack of physical activity—can be detrimental to our well-being. However, the effects of exercise on the pathology of certain conditions can also be positive; they can reduce risk of chronic disease, delay its onset, or even slow down the aging process.

If you’re interested in a career where you can help others improve their lives through health and fitness, consider learning more about Broadview University’s online exercise science bachelor’s degree.


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