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Exercise, Excuses, How to Motivate Yourself and Your Patients to

Mar 13, 2002

Caution: Reading this article may be harmful to your bad health. Read it at your own risk!!! >Do you exercise at least 5 days a week at 60-85% of your maximum heart rate and recommend it to your patients, if you do, you can skip to the last page. For those of you who do not recommend or do not exercise as above, then please take Caution: Reading this article may be harmful to your bad health.

Exercise, this is a word that as medical professionals we do not use as often as we should.


There is no medication available that can do, what exercise can do for you or your patients health. Not only to treat medical conditions, but to prevent them as well.

This article will talk about the benefits, but we will also talk about a breakthrough new device to motivate you and your patients to exercise and make it fun. IT WORKS!

Benefits of Physical Activity

Research shows that regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity (or lower insulin resistance) by 20% to 30% by building muscle and reducing body fat. It also helps lower blood sugar (exercise has an insulin like effect) and control weight. Research is also very clear that it is almost impossible to maintain weight loss unless an individual is physically active.

Physical activity increases muscle and bone strength, increases the efficiency of the heart and lungs, reduces cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, increases energy, improves quality of sleep, improves appearance and posture, and reduces the risk of falling. It also increases mental acuity, enhances psychological well-being, improves mood, and reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression (one study showed it may prevent depression).

The current "official" recommendations regarding physical activity are for all Americans to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. These recommendations were released in 1996 in the Surgeon General’s report, "Physical Activity and Health." They suggest a "lifestyle" approach to physical activity and health, and they complement earlier guidelines that called for formal exercise 3—5 times week, for 15—60 minutes, at 60% to 85% of maximum heart rate. These goals, set by the American College of Sports Medicine in 1978, are still worth pursuing for higher levels of fitness, but it is possible to improve your health and maintain good health with less vigorous activity. The new guidelines provide options for people who are unwilling or unable to participate in more formal exercise.

For the 70% of Americans who are overweight, need to realize that you don’t have to be skinny to exercise, more and more evidence shows that moderate levels of physical activity have positive effects on cardiovascular disease, weight control, and diabetes. Virtually every study of cardio-respiratory fitness shows that the fittest people—those who can walk the longest on a treadmill—are healthier than unfit people, even if the fit person is overweight. In this case, "healthier" means having lower cholesterol, triglyceride, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels and living longer. Research also shows that people who follow the Surgeon General’s guidelines for activity are twice as likely to stay active, as are people who begin programs of formal exercise.

Many studies show that the healthiest person is not always the thinnest, especially when the overweight person is physically fit. In one well-known study, researchers compared overweight or obese fit people (yes, you can be fit and fat) to normal-weight, unfit people. It turned out that the overweight, fit people were healthier and lived longer than the lean, unfit people. They had healthier cholesterol levels, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. They also had less diabetes and were 2.3 times less likely to die prematurely.

So often the emphasis is on weight loss to get healthier, but here’s evidence to show that even if you are overweight, you can be healthy, as long as you are fit. And in many of these studies, fitness was achieved by individuals who walked for activity at moderate paces of 3—3½ miles per hour. In some cases they accumulated the 30 minutes throughout the day, while in other cases they did it all at once.

If there were a drug that could the following, would you prescribe it for your patients’ and take it yourself?

Prevent disease. The evidence is overwhelming: a balanced diet combined with moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. It bolsters the immune system, and lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Improve strength at any age. In a study of 90-year old men and women who used weight machines three times per week for 8 weeks, the subjects’ strength increased by 174%.

Slash risk of heart disease. 120-160 minutes per week of aerobic activity* can help control cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Boost brainpower. Keeps brain sharp in old age and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Maintain or reduce weight and increase longevity. People who gain 20-40 pounds since the age of 18 are 2-1/2 times as likely to die from coronary heart disease.

Reduce depression and improve sleep.

Relieve symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). In a 14-week study, aerobic exercise three times a week for 45 minutes was shown to significantly relieve premenstrual depression and anxiety.

Help reduce breast cancer risk. 3.8 hours of exercise per week reduced risk by 58%. 1-3 hours per week reduced risk up to 30%.

Improve mood and feelings of well-being. A 10-minute walk can boost mood quickly and the after-effects can be long lasting.

Reduce total fat and lose weight. If you’re overweight, cutting back on saturated fat cholesterol and losing as few as five to 10 pounds can double the drop in LDL’s. Regular aerobic exercise, which aids weight loss, has been shown to raise HDL’s and lower LDL’s.

Boost memory. Adults who exercise aerobically increase significant amounts of blood flow to the brain, which leads to better memory. Researchers put half of a group of sedentary people ranging in age from the mid-20s to early 60s on a walking or jogging program three times a week. After 10 weeks, the active group reported more mental alertness and vigor.

Exercise gains are extremely comprehensive, thoroughly generating both physical and mental benefits.

"People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better, and use less sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs. Above all, exercise makes you feel good about yourself. For most people, exercise is one of the most obvious self-respecting behaviors. Each time you jog, visit the gym, or play a game of squash, you are building your positive self-image — a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual foundation for your growing self-esteem."

We know it is good for you, but how can you get started and stay motivated to continue to improve your health.

Excuses, Excuses… Getting Started with an Exercise Program

According to the Center for Disease Control (1996), 60% of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity, and over 25% of adults are not active at all. The excuses? "I don’t have time." "I’m too tired." "I don’t know what to do."

If you think you might be ready to get started with an exercise program, there are key rules to being successful and steps to help get you through the initial hurdles.

Commit to get started. Take the time to make a list, writing down the reasons exercise that exercise is important to you. For example, "it will increase my energy", "it will help me fit into my clothes again", "it will improve my health", "I will look better", etc.

Determine Your Current Level of Fitness and Health and Document It. Now is the time to document your blood pressure, pulse rate, your body measurements and to determine your present body fat levels. Documenting your starting fitness and test results will become invaluable in monitoring your progress and in keeping you motivated toward your goals.

Set Specific, Achievable Goals. Now that you’re committed to beginning a program, it’s time to define specific, achievable goals. Set long-term, intermediate and short-term goals as benchmarks to monitor your progress. The goals should be specific, measurable and challenging, yet achievable. You must record your goals.

Reward Yourself. As you reach your short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals, reward yourself. You deserve it! Buy that new exercise outfit or pair of tennis shoes. Take a long bath after a tough workout. Look over your appointment book and see how much progress you’ve already made — and all the fitness appointments you’ve kept! You’re doing a terrific thing for your health and appearance – reward yourself for a job well done!