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Exercise Is Medicine

Dr. Matt Bayes

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The Importance of Exercise for Adults
by Matthew Bayes

Risks and Benefits

The benefits of regular physical activity are far reaching. Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to many preventable causes of death, including those mentioned above.

Obesity is defined as a BMI (body mass index) over 30. In 1994, only 15 states had obesity prevalence rates above 14 percent. A 2009 study indicates all 50 states are now over 14 percent, with nine states at or above 30 percent and only one state (Colorado) under 20 percent. Missouri has the 8th highest obesity prevalence rate for adults (30 percent). The CDC also released data stating that in 2008 27.2 percent of Missourians reported they participate in no leisure-time physical activity.

Avoiding the diagnosis of being overweight does not mean one is not at risk for the diseases discussed at the beginning of this blog. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), approximately two million deaths per year are attributed to inactivity, and a sedentary lifestyle may be one of the top 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.

Exercise Guidelines
These are the basic recommendations from ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) and AHA (American Heart Association) for healthy adults under age 65:
Do moderately intense cardio exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, three days a week and do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.
Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet you are still able to carry on a conversation. (This is known as the "Talk-Test.") Persons who wish to further improve their personal fitness, reduce their risk for chronic diseases and disabilities or prevent unhealthy weight gain may benefit by exceeding the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity. To lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary.

Getting Started
Starting an exercise program may sound like a daunting task, but just remember your main goal is to improve your health and meet the basic physical activity recommendations. Choose activities you enjoy, such as swimming, biking or playing basketball with friends to get your daily physical activity. If you need multiple activities to stay motivated, combine a few that appeal to you. Physical activity can be accumulated through a variety of activities, not just running. Walking is a great way to do moderate-intensity physical activity.

Helpful Tips

  1. Write it down. Making a diet log of everything you eat and drink in a day will give you some perspective on your eating habits. It will allow you to see and reflect upon your choices and the areas that need improvement. Also, some people find that making a diet log creates a kind of "food conscience," which makes them acutely aware of all the tempting bad foods.

  2. Set weekly goals. Rather than focusing on a large, seemingly unattainable goal (like losing 50 lbs), set small, weekly goals (like lose two lbs, walk two miles without resting, etc.). By doing this, you are constantly achieving and staying motivated during your workouts. Weekly goals and results will keep you on the right track towards that larger goal.

  3. Add variety. Do this in your diet and your workouts.

  4. Do it in short bouts. You do not need to do the full 30 minutes in one session. Try doing 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes in the evening until you have built up enough strength and endurance. Gradually increase your time. This is also a great method for those adults who claim to have no time to work out.

  5. Set a schedule. After you accomplish each day's exercise agenda, cross it off. Put this schedule some place where people see it. This will help hold you accountable and you will be amazed at the compliments you get when your calendar is full of crossed-off days!

  6. Bring your friends. They will make the workouts more fun and keep you motivated.


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