There’s one thing you can choose to do today that will give you a more positive outlook, improve your health, help you avoid disease, age better and even live longer. Every expert in every field of medicine agrees that this one thing is nearly miraculous in its health benefits. Best of all, you don’t have to buy anything, go anywhere or even, really, have anyone help you. What’s this miracle thing?
That’s right. Exercise is pretty amazing when it comes to its health benefits. And those benefits? Well, they happen regardless of whatever else you do, but they are enhanced by other healthy behaviors, such as eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.
“Any amount of physical activity can be beneficial,” said Dr. David Dome of Lexington Clinic Orthopedics – Sports Medicine. “At one time, the recommendation was for at least 10 minutes of activity at a time, but the latest government guidelines recognize that even a minute of physical activity can be help, and that’s especially true for individuals whose lives are otherwise sedentary,” said Dr. Dome.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition, published in 2018, had additional great news for people working toward physical fitness, as well as though who are on their way:
• Exercise has immediate physical benefits. A single episode of physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure; improve quality of sleep; and enhance insulin sensitivity, which is important in managing Type 2 diabetes.
• Exercise helps decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis; reduces disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes; can lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression; and has been shown to improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD and Parkinson’s Disease.
• It can help prevent chronic conditions, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
• It has been shown to reduce the risk of developing eight types of cancer: bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach and lung.
• Older adults who exercise reduce their risk of falling and suffering fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures.
• Exercise can help people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
• For pregnant women, exercise reduces the risk of postpartum depression.
Sadly, Kentuckians are not taking full advantage of the benefits of exercise, Dr. Dome said. According to the U.S. Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Kentucky ranks No. 1 in the nation for the number of adults living a sedentary lifestyle, with more than 34 percent of state residents reporting no daily physical activity outside of work. Not surprisingly, nearly the same number reported being obese or overweight. The statistics worsen with age. More than 42 percent of older Kentuckians reported being physically inactive, putting them at even greater risk for chronic health conditions, osteoporosis, hip fractures and other serious, life-impacting conditions.
“We recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every week along with at least 60 minutes of strength-based exercise,” Dr. Dome said. “Strength training is sometimes forgotten in the mix of exercise, but it is absolutely critical for maintaining muscle mass, bone density and flexibility,” Dr. Dome said.
If you’re just getting started, it may be difficult to figure out what counts as moderate-to-vigorous activity. A general rule of thumb is if you can talk while doing the activity, but not sing, you’ve reached the appropriate intensity. During vigorous activity you shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
Moderate intensity exercise
• Walking briskly (about 3 mph)
• Bicycling (less than 10 mph)
• Doubles tennis
• Ballroom dancing
• General gardening
• Household chores such as vacuuming, sweeping, etc.
Vigorous intensity exercise
• Race walking, jogging or running
• Swimming laps
• Singles tennis
• Aerobic dancing
• Bicycling (more than 10 mph)
• Jumping rope
• Heavy gardening (continuous digging,
• Air swimming
• Standing calf raises
“May is a perfect time to make your move toward physical fitness,” Dr. Dome said. “Play golf, participate in a fun run/walk, hike Raven Run, enjoy a spin on the pedal boats in Jacobson Park … whatever you do, just realize that the health benefits you experience are both immediate and long term.”
And keep doing it!
If orthopedic issues such as joint pain are keeping you from enjoying a physically active life, Lexington Clinic Orthopedics – Sports Medicine can help. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call the Clinic at (859) 258-4000.