Exercise is Medicine

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Imagine a world where there was one magical prescription designed to treat and prevent dozens of diseases and conditions.  Even better, what if this magical prescription was free for all and had little to no adverse side effects?  Well, fantasize no more because in reality there is such a prescription! So what is this wonder “drug”? The answer is physical activity consisting of planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain body weight, endurance, flexibility and/or strength.  In one word—Exercise!!  Much like a pill, exercise can be prescribed to manage hypertension, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes and many other chronic health complications. Regular exercise, at the correct duration and intensity, has also been proven to significantly lower the risk for developing heart disease, colon cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.    The opposite is true for people who are physically inactive.  

The risk for developing health complications increases for individuals who do not make a conscious effort to consistently workout.  Unfortunately, there is a high prevalence of individuals living a sedentary lifestyle in America. This means more than half of adult citizens do not meet the recommended level of planned exercise sessions or sustained physical activities performed each week. Take the quiz below to determine your activity level. Be honest with yourself and make no exceptions. If you do not meet the description exactly answer by checking “false”. 

Physical Activity Quiz
a. I do moderately difficult cardio 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week, or vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week.     True/False
b. I do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.    True/False

If you answered true to both quiz questions then keep up the good work. However, if you answered false to either question you do not meet the recommended guidelines for exercise.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) asserts that moderate activity for 30 minutes a day on most, if not all, days of the week can decrease all-cause mortality. You may start slowly by breaking up the 30 minute sessions into 10-minute bouts 3 times a day.

Efforts are being made to help motivate Americans of all ages to increase their physical activity levels. In 2007 ACSM lead the launch of the Exercise is Medicine® initiative.  The program’s mission is to make physical activity, or lack thereof, a “vital sign” that doctors could routinely assess and discuss with every patient visit. Part of executing this mission starts with you. Before you begin any exercise regimen make sure to consult with your physician.  After a brief health history questionnaire and fitness evaluation, your doctor may be able to prescribe you an appropriate exercise program, or refer you to a movement professional like a physical therapist, or a nationally certified personal trainer to do so.

Exercise is Medicine® also calls on the general public and healthcare professionals who share the idea that exercise truly is medicine to advocate for physical activity as vital for health and wellness by committing to action. If you would like to get involved visit: www.exerciseismedicine.org.  Exercise is medicine, have you had your dose for today?

Written by Benicia Bell, Intern, Bradley Wellness Center