Choosing Daily Physical Activity is Powerful Medicine

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The best medicines are those that prevent disease and improve quality of life and your daily well-being.  You may not think of physical activity as medicine, but in fact, it is powerful medicine when performed daily!  “We do not stop exercising because we grow old. We grow old because we stop exercising or moving.”  Dr. Kenneth Cooper – The Father of Aerobics, Cooper Institute. 

 

Do you have a family member or friend who has suffered a heart attack?  In a Harvard study of 80,000 nurses, those that walked at least 30 minutes daily, five or more days each week, reduced their risk of heart attack by 50%.  Walking strengthens your heart, mind, and body, so work towards 30 or more minutes of walking daily to keep your heart healthy, mind focused, and stress level reduced.  Regular physical activity helps to prevent cognitive decline and dementia as we age.  One study documented that older persons who walked regularly, gardened, or went jogging, were 50% less likely to develop dementia five years later compared to sedentary people. Research has strongly demonstrated that light physical activities and movements such as walking or stepping can significantly improve your health and well-being.

 

Want to prevent or better manage your diabetes?  In a 15 year study, researchers followed nearly 2,500 young adults (younger than 30) and discovered that those who became physically active were 60% less likely to develop diabetes.

 

Physical activity (daily) helps prevent insulin resistance, which is the underlying cause of type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  One study showed that for every two hours a person watched TV daily, their risk of diabetes increased by 14%.  Imagine the impact on the health of our nation and health care insurance costs if every inactive person became physically active and moved more daily?

 

Has cancer touched your family’s life?  Learn and practice lifestyle habits to prevent cancer.  One study showed a 40% decrease in cancer deaths in high fit persons compared to low fit persons.  A recent report by the American Cancer Society states that regular exercise may be helpful in preventing breast, colon, prostrate and endometrial cancer by as much as 20% to 40%.  

 

Did you know that by not smoking or using smokeless tobacco, being physically active for 30 or more minutes five days each week, and by eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each week, you could reduce most cancer risks for you and your family’s body by 66%?     

 

Other benefits to being physically active include:

  • Brisk walking can cut the risk of hip fractures in women by 65%.  Hip fractures are one of the most devastating injuries to our bodies and the leading cause of admission to nursing homes or dependent living facilities in older adults.  
  • Data from the Aerobic Research Center showed that active men had 68% fewer strokes and active women dropped their risks of stroke by 50%.
  • Physically active men were 57% less likely to develop high blood pressure.  High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attacks, so choose to be physically active today. 
  • Fit persons have less depression and are happier.  The more we move our bodies daily the more your body releases endorphins, a natural pain killer and energizer that our bodies crave.
  • Fit individuals are 34% less likely to catch a cold or the flu bug.
  • People who get regular physical activity or exercise  five or more days each week are also less likely to be overweight, have more energy, are more optimistic, sleep and recover better, and have less arthritis and joint pain.

 

Live by these principles to maintain an active lifestyle and manage your daily well-being:

  • Choose activities that you enjoy daily.
  • Ask someone to walk, lift weights, go swimming, jog or go biking with you.  An exercise partner helps you to be accountable and more regular with your program, not to mention have more fun.
  • Be physically active in the morning or late in the day and drink plenty of fluids at least 40 ounces of water or more daily (fresh filtered water), slowly working towards half of your body weight in ounces.
  • Get good walking shoes with arch support and wear comfortable clothing such as dry fit materials.
  • Set SMART goals and keep a journal or record of what you are doing and how you are feeling.
  • Look for ways to be more active and move in your daily life at work, home and while on vacation too.
  • Join a gym or fitness class in Siouxland or wherever you call home.
  • Do some fun and functional strengthening exercises at least three times per week.  Your body, muscles, joints, bones, and mind with all thank you.  

 

Sources:

1)    Physical Activity is Powerful Medicine by Wellsource 2007.  Check out their website at www.wellsource.com  

2)      The Hazards of Inactivity from WellSource Making Healthy Choices Newsletter 2006.

3)    Welcoa  www.welcoa.org  Physical Activity Summit in Omaha, NE Sept 8-9, 2010 Resources.

4)    Fitness That Works –Simple moves to make exercise happen from 9 to 5, by Sean Foy MA, and published in 2012 by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) www.welcoa.org