Could I interest you in some very special medicines? These medicines can help prevent and treat some 40 chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. They can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. They can improve almost every area of life, from your ability to focus at work, to lifting your mood, to helping you sleep better, to improving your love life.
They’re proven safe and effective when used as directed. They’re affordable. When used properly, they have few if any negative side effects. They usually leave you feeling better after using it than before. They’re even fun.
What are they? They’re exercise and physical activity. That’s right, exercise is medicine—good medicine.
While all exercise is physical activity, not all physical activity is exercise. Both are essential to a healthy life and one is not a substitute for the other. Physical activity is anything that involves deliberate bodily movement—from a leisurely walk to light housework or gardening. Exercise is physical activity that is intense enough, frequent enough and done long enough to make improvements in strength, endurance and flexibility.
There are some health benefits that can really only be achieved with exercise.
In 2007, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) collaborated to launch Exercise is Medicine® (EIM). The ACSM recommends that people get at least 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise, on most days of the week. (By the way, if you’re walking briskly and can talk normally but not sing, that’s moderate intensity.) And the good news for busy people is that those 30 minutes can be broken up into ten-minute bouts.
I work in a health & fitness center doing fitness training and health coaching and I love when people join and consult and train with me. But this isn’t the only route to better health. You can walk in your neighborhood or play basketball in the park. Many of Tallahassee’s community centers have exercise equipment and classes. The web is loaded with resources for getting started on an exercise plan.
In recognition of May as Exercise is Medicine® Month, I offer the following recommendations:
- If physical activity and exercise are not part of your life, it’s (almost) never too late to begin
- Start with a conversation with your doctor
- Ask if there is anything in your medical history to prevent you from exercising
- Ask what, if any, restrictions would there be
- Start low and go slow: a ten-minute walk on your lunch hour is a good start
- Find something you like and will stick with
- Get a family member, friend, or coworker to do it with you—hold each other accountable
- Challenge yourself, make progress, get better—success leads to more success
- Take an exercise class at work, at church, at a community center but don’t try to keep up with anyone else; go at your own pace)
- You might find exercising leads to other healthy choices: quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol and sugary drinks, drinking more water, eating healthier, getting more sleep
- Don’t put it off—start today!
As always, if I can be of help with this, or anything else, please feel free to contact me at the below.