Posts

The Healthy “F” Word

 

I’m talking about FITNESS. Obesity is at an all time high and unfortunately on the rise. With more and more people trying to get healthy these days, there seem to be new workout programs and videos everywhere you turn. But let’s get back to the basics. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. In addition to looking and feeling great there are many other added health benefits of exercise.

All it takes is 150 minutes of exercise per week… only 30 minutes, 5 days per week, to benefit

 

Benefits of exercise include (but are not limited to):

– Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even breast and colon cancer!

– Promotes weight loss and weight maintenance (with a healthy diet of course)

– Strengthens muscles and bones

– Improves mood and sleep

– Increases lifespan

– Improves balance and reduces the risk of falls (Important for the “less young”)

How much exercise is enough?

All it takes is 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (an average of 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week) to benefit. You will benefit the most from moderate intensity exercise which means you can talk comfortably for the duration of exercise and/or 50-70% of your maximum heart rate related to age.

How to Calculate Maximum Heart Rate

50% (220- Your age) x 0.5=
70% (220-your age) x 0.7=

There are many great heart rate monitors available for tracking your progress. Even if you can’t initially achieve this goal, just being up and moving about is better for your health than being sedentary.

What kind of exercise is best?

There are many different types of physical activities to choose from. The most benefit comes from a regimen that includes both aerobic exercise (what you would typically think of as “cardio” such as running, elliptical machine, biking, etc) and strength training such as weight lifting, squats, crunches, resistance band exercises, Pilates and so on. If you are not sure where to start, there are many great gyms that have personal trainers that can help you choose a fitness plan that is right for you. They can also ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly and safely.

Work Out Smart, Not Hard

Some of you may think that exercising harder and longer is better. In fact, running long distances or spending hours on the treadmill can lead to muscle loss. If you are looking to burn calories it’s actually more efficient to do high intensity interval training exercises, where you mix high intensity exercises to increase your heart rate with low intensity exercises for recovery. Overexercising can lead to fatigue and injuries and can increase your susceptibility to infections, so take it easy on your body.

Don’t Forget to Stretch!

Always stretch after exercise. Stretching helps with flexibility and helps prevent muscle injury after exercise. Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and relieve stress.

Excuses for Not Exercising, and How to Overcome Them

Not having enough time
– We make time for what we prioritize. Case and point!

Not wanting to go to the gym
– Who said you had to be a gym member? You can exercise in your home or outside. A little fresh air is even great for stress relief!

Thinking exercise means vigorous intensity
– Remember, as long as you can talk comfortably while exercising, you are benefitting.

Working out intensely and feeling sick or getting injured
– It’s great to have the motivation to exercise, but if you have not been physically active for awhile, start off slow and gradually build up endurance and strength and before you know it you will be exercising at increasing intensity with more ease!

Feeling embarrassed
– Whenever we feel like others are judging us, it’s mostly because we are judging ourselves. Other people are not living our lives for us. If anyone has anything negative to say, that’s on their terms and we have the power to not let it affect us. You have nothing to prove to anyone but do have the responsibility to do what is necessary to keep yourself healthy.

Exercise can be enjoyable if you change your perspective and make it fun. In addition to exercise, don’t forget to incorporate a healthy diet and adequate sleep as a part of your daily routine. As always, you are worthy of being healthy and strong!

Let me know what you think in the comment section below:

– When could you fit in 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week minimum for exercise?
– What have your excuses been in the past for not exercising?
– What are your favorite fitness activities?

Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen. 

References

1. 2011, Feb 16. Physical Activity and Health. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health.

2. Garber, C, Blissmer, B, Deschenes, MR, Franklin, BA, Lamonte, MJ, Lee, IM, Nieman, DC, Swain, DP. 2011. Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 43 (7): 1334-1359.

3. Klika, BC. Jordan, C. 2013. High Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment. ACSM’S Health & Fitness Journal. 13 (3): 8-13.

The Magic Pill

photo-20

Can I get a side of pills with that?

According to the CDC, 48.5% of Americans have taken at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days. 21.7% report taking three or more prescription drugs. Why is it then that chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure continue to increase in our population? The answer is complicated, but to keep things simple for this discussion, one main reason has to do with what I call “under-diagnosis” and “over-mistreatment.”

A “Pillemma”

Typically we go to the doctor when we experience a physical symptom, and after a few encounters and possibly some tests, we are often prescribed pills. If we are fortunate enough to afford the medication or compliant enough to take it, we may or may not experience relief of our symptoms. Oftentimes we don’t feel any better, and if anything, worse from the side effect of a pill. Then we may become disappointed that our doctor could not “fix” us.

What if there is something deeper than just the symptom we are experiencing? Let’s take a headache, for example. There are many causes for headaches, but the most common reason I encounter with patients is usually related to stress. When I examine patients with headaches, I find many of them have tense shoulder and neck muscles; hence why it is called a “tension headache.” So yes, while a pill can inhibit the pain, it still is not treating the muscle tension, which is being caused by stress!

Pills are not always the answer. Unfortunately with the limited amount of time doctors have to see patients these days, the only option is the “easy fix”, which is usually a pill. It doesn’t help that our society is always looking for this “easy fix”, so instant gratification wins, but in the end we are often back where we started. So what’s the solution, you may ask? Let’s take a look at how disease is diagnosed: Typically we see illness like this:

Disease Approach

 

We often forget that WE ARE NOT JUST A BODY. WE ARE NOT ROBOTS. Here is a more realistic diagram of a human being’s existence:

 

Holistic Approach

 

The real the dilemma our healthcare system is facing has to do with the following:

Underdiagnosis– Not addressing the whole person

Over-mistreatment- Treating only a part of the problem with a “solution” (pills) that creates more problems (side effects, death, etc.)

While pills are effective at the physical level, they do not address all of the other factors that contribute to illness. Often the underlying cause is related to something completely different than what is seen on the surface (see arrows above). I am not saying that we should all stop taking medication. Medication is effective and has a place in treatment of illness, but it is rather one of many tools to be used. Prevention is the best way to avoid illness in the first place, and many times healthy lifestyle habits are enough to heal.

How to begin healing

Until we address the underlying causes that contribute to illness, will we then find complete healing. Like in the headache example, Aleve or Tylenol can relieve pain, but so can massage and stretching. Nothing will be as effective as managing stress, however.

True health can only occur when the mind, body and spirit are integrated and healthy. It involves more than a pill and what a doctor tells you. It involves healing your body and mind. It involves honoring your emotions. It actually involves YOU. Yes, it’s complicated and takes a little more effort than a pill. But we are complicated creatures, and, in my opinion, some delayed gratification and a commitment to our well-being is well worth it for a happy and healthy life.

Share your health secrets in the comment below.

[newsletter]