Have you ever thought of exercise as medicine? Well, you should because it is. We have known for many years that exercise is good for you, and now there is a tremendous amount of research to back that up. Yes, our country, along many others, is in a health crisis and the main culprit is behavioral-related diseases. The good news is it is preventable, the bad news is we aren’t making any progress. We need the right medicine.
In this article I will to give you a few examples of how exercise can have a positive impact on a person’s health, and then provide you with some helpful ways to begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle.Yes our country is in a health crisis, and the main culprit is behavioral-related diseases. Click To Tweet
Mayo Clinic published an article on April 8, 2016 that focuses on the importance of exercise in cancer survivorship. They state, “It is well known that exercise decreases the risk of developing cancer. Studies have reported that there is a 25% reduction in the risk of breast cancer among the most physically active women, compared to those who are least active.”
The role of exercise in the prevention of other cancers including lung, endometrial, colon, and prostate is well-documented also. The American Cancer Society recommends exercise during cancer treatment because it has been shown to improve quality of life as well as the following:
- Increase strength and endurance
- Strengthen the cardiovascular system
- Reduce depression
- Decrease anxiety
- Diminish fatigue
- Improve mood
- Raise self-esteem
- Lessen pain
- Improve sleep
Not all cancer patients can participate in exercise, but most can. Patients must seek guidance from their physician.
Now, let me move to another lifestyle related disease, type 2 diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 out of 3 adults in the U.S. has prediabetes. The frightening part is, most of them do not know it. You can see the train wreck coming. However, if you are pre diabetic and you enter into a healthy lifestyle program and lose 5% to 7% of your body weight through healthier eating and 150 minutes of physical activity a week, you “significantly” reduce your chances of becoming a diabetic. It sounds easy, yet we are losing the battle on this one. Even in cities known for being healthy, such as Austin, Texas and Denver, Colorado, are experiencing an alarming increase in the number of people with diabetes. From 2009-2013 the rate increased +25% and +24.1% respectively. (ref: ACSM American Fitness Index)
These are only two of the many chronic diseases contributing to our health crisis. The contributing factors are primarily a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. Today “sitting” is the new smoking. We eat too much fast food. And, we eat too many processed foods with chemical additives. Our search for convenience is literally killing us.
Regardless of where you fall on the health continuum, you can improve. The primary focus of this article is exercise, so I want to review the benefits of exercise one more time:
- Increase energy
- Improve muscular strength, endurance, and tone
- Look and feel younger
- Feel happier, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Sharpen your focus
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stimulate creativity
- Increase productivity
- Improve sleep
- Improve bone strength
- Improve posture
- Increase joint mobility
- Enhance intimacy and relationships
- Treat and prevent more than forty chronic diseases
Wow, what a list. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. Now that you understand that exercise really is medicine, I ask you, “Are you taking your medicine?” If you are, GREAT. If not, I will lay some groundwork in this article and there will be much more to come.
I am a fan of a program and book by the same name, The Daniel Plan. Dr. Amen, one of the authors of the book uses an illustration I love. Its called the Fork in the Road. He asks you to imagine coming to a fork in the road with two paths.
To the left is a future of pain. If you don’t care about your brain or your body just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Now imagine what it will be like in a year, or five years, or ten years. Imagine your body aging with brain fog, tiredness, depression, memory loss, and physical illness.
To the right, imagine a future of health. If you care about your body, which is a gift from God, and do The Daniel Plan (which I’ll share soon), what will your life be like in forty days, in a year, in five years, or ten years. Imagine your body getting healthier with mental clarity, more energy, better memory, a trimmer body, a healthier brain, and healthier skin.
So which path will you take? My guess is it’s an easy decision. But before you get started, I’m going to ask you to take a few minutes and answer three questions. Please don’t skip over this. Give these questions some serious thought.
- What are the benefits to accomplishing your fitness dreams?
- What are the obstacles you are likely to encounter as you strive for your fitness dreams?
- What are the possible solutions to overcoming the obstacles?
Now that I have hopefully convinced you that EXERCISE IS MEDICINE, it is time to get started. Reflect on your answers to the questions above. If you have been inactive, do something. Go for a walk or a bicycle ride. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do something. Future articles will drill down on exercise in detail. But don’t wait, DO SOMETHING.