Exercise is Medicine
There is overwhelming evidence that inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for the most common chronic diseases among Americans. Of all factors contributing to disease that are within the control of the individual, diet and exercise have the greatest potential to impact health. Physical inactivity has been shown to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, several types of cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and depression. It has also been associated with premature death. Interestingly, there seems to be a linear relationship between physical activity and health: the more physically active you are, the greater the health benefits.
Although the definitions of physical activity, physical fitness and exercise differ, for the most part, they have all been linked to significant health benefits. Exercise decreases the amount of adipose tissue, improves weight control, enhances glucose metabolism and control, decreases total cholesterol and improves the lipid profile, decreases blood pressure, improves heart function, and decreases systemic inflammation. These are just some of the beneficial physiological effects associated with being active.
So how much exercise does one need to engage in to reap these benefits? The Centers for Disease Control recommends 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week coupled with 2 or more days of muscle strengthening exercise. Moderate aerobic exercise includes walking 2 miles in 30 minutes, biking 4 miles in 15 minutes, and gardening for 30 minutes. The 150 hours of moderate aerobic exercise can be substituted with 90 minutes of high intensity exercise, like running. But these are the minimum requirements; more can be better.
Sometimes musculoskeletal injury or pain gets in the way of regular physical activity. If this is the case, see your physical therapist. Resuming physical activity is important for your health, and may even save your life!
Marcia Miller Spoto, PT, DC, OCS