By Dr. Jeff Kindred, DO:
All of the providers at Crossroads Medical Group would agree that exercise is definitely the best medicine. Time and again studies demonstrate that exercise is helpful and often the most helpful thing we can do to both treat and prevent disease. Which diseases? Almost all of them.
While exercise should not replace your prescribed medications, regular exercise on a daily basis may allow you to decrease or even not need certain medications in the future. Exercise has multiple physical benefits in the form of heart and lung health. Improved muscle strength and conditioning, along with all of the advantages that come along with weight loss. In addition, we know that exercise also helps with depression and anxiety. Most avid exercisers will tell you that exercise is their therapy and that’s because it really is!
This is a great time to start getting active if you haven’t been already. It is important to remember that being physically active doesn’t require a gym or a high-intensity aerobics class or even expensive equipment. Walking is a great way to start and is a great form of exercise. If not walking, find a form of activity that you enjoy doing and start moving. If you enjoy the activity, you will be much more likely to stick with it.
Finding a person or group to exercise with also makes you much more likely to make it a habit and having someone meeting you makes you more accountable and less likely to procrastinate. Find a friend, a spouse or child or a class at the local YMCA or gym with others at your fitness level.
Dogs can also help. Several studies have shown that people with dogs tend to get much more physical activity than those without. Dogs will also help keep you accountable because after they get used to going on a walk, they will expect it which will help keep you going.
Start slow, often people want to make up for years of inactivity by doing hard or prolonged workouts right from the start, and this is always a mistake. Usually, it makes for a bad experience, but also makes you at very high risk for injury. Start slow, slower than you think and then gradually build up. Our muscles and tendons adapt really well but it takes time for that to happen. It can be very frustrating to finally get exercising only to have an aching tendon or joint make you have to stop.
Don’t exercise to lose weight. Although this is a benefit and often a goal when we start people often get discouraged when they don’t lose 5lbs after the first 2 days. Stick with it, we want to change a lifestyle not just the scale and bothtake time.
When you start, keep a pace that makes it a little bit hard to carry on a conversation, this will let you know that your heart is having to work hard enough to get some good aerobic benefit. Shoot for about 30 minutes a day, less when you start and then you may find you want to do more once you get conditioned and that is great.
If you are having joint or other pain that is stopping you from being active come and see Dr. Kindred, he is our Sports Medicine specialist who can help figure out what is going on to get you going once again.