Exercise is medicine!

Health Tips
January 25, 2017
2 min read
Exercise is medicine!

This is the motto of the new national campaign by the American College of Sports Medicine. It gives a goal of getting 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise. That's only 30 minutes, five days a week!

Whether walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, or taking a class at the gym, exercise can be fun. It has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood sugar and blood pressure, and reduce risk for heart disease, strokes, and dementia. It can also help you maintain the weight loss you achieve by reducing your calorie intake.

Here's another reason to exercise: it's (often) free entertainment! Sure, you can pay to go to a gym, but you can also grab a soccer ball and head to a park with your family. Exercise has helped some of my patients stop or reduce their medications for diabetes and high blood pressure. And they don't even have to lose vast amounts of weight, just 10 to 15 pounds of weight loss can improve blood sugar and blood pressure control dramatically.

Have a sedentary job? A new study showed that just three minutes of movement every 30 minutes dramatically improved blood sugar control. In the study, a group of office workers who did simple exercises next to their desks such as calf or arm raises, high stepping, or buttock squeezes improved the way their body used blood sugar as opposed to those who didn't.

Exercisers sleep an average of 50 more minutes a night. This is good news because people who sleep an average of at least seven hours per night crave carbs less, making it easier for them to say "no" to extra portions or to choose healthier snacks.

Exercise improves mood, as well. By releasing natural endorphins (pleasure hormones) in our brain, exercise helps us to feel happier. It can also relieve the tension built up during a stressful day.

Exercise improves energy. A Mayo Clinic article states that by delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, exercise can help you have more energy overall, which allows you to have extra energy for things at the end of the day like chores or physical intimacy.

Strength training has been shown to boost metabolic rate by building muscle mass. Since muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate, it can help you burn more calories and stay lean. Three sessions a week are recommended because when you go more than 72 hours between workout, you can lose muscle mass. Whether you are a man or woman, old or young, stronger muscles help you avoid injuries, and improve bone density, balance and stability. You are never too old! Studies have shown that seniors can improve their strength by 35%.

Have a New Year's resolution? You don't have to join a gym, just walk out your front door. Going with a friend is even better. Or make your dog happy! And you can feel great knowing you are dramatically improving your chances of living a longer, healthier life.

By Lisa A. Hudson, MD FACP. , Danville Sports Medicine and Primary Care