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Exercise Is Medicine

By: Erin Mahoney

Physical activity, specifically exercise, promotes health and wellness; but exercise asmedicine is also a global health initiative. Managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Exercise is Medicine encourages physicians and healthcare providers to include fitness as part of larger healthcare treatment plans. Further, it aims to create cohesiveness between the healthcare provider and fitness professionals.

In the case of chronic diseases, exercise can sometimes prevent or even treat such conditions.

Exercise is easy and cost-effective in controlling disease. Although people will still be at risk and develop conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and others even if they exercise, it’s an excellent starting point in a well-rounded and long-term health plan.

In addition to being included as part of a wellness plan, exercise also supports the requirements of ADLs, or activities of daily living. As we get older, simple tasks such as putting groceries away, tying our shoes, and even walking can become more difficult. The Exercise is Medicine initiative addresses different modes of exercise for therapeutic benefits and can include:

  • Balance training
  • Strength training
  • Aerobic conditioning
  • Mobility and flexibility training
  • Resistive exercise

 

Health Benefits of Exercise

There is growing science-based evidence showing that regular physical activity positively influences most of the body’s functions. From immune support to depression, and of course cardiovascular function, the health benefits of exercise are widely documented. Just a few ways that exercise acts as medicine are:

  1. Mental activity: decreasing depression and increasing mental acuity
  2. Immune function: moderate exercise can boost T cell production
  3. Cardiorespiratory function: heart and lung function markedly improve with proper training
  4. Cardiovascular function: the vascular system becomes more efficient
  5. Bone density: maintains or improves with adequate stimulation
  6. Liver function: the liver’s ability to store glycogen is improved as a result of improved cardiovascular conditioning
  7. Body composition: increased lean body mass when combined with proper calorie consumption
  8. Gastrointestinal function: regular activity may decrease colon cancer since physical movement decreases the amount of time food remains in the colon and rectum
  9. Metabolism: the body becomes more efficient at generating energy; strength training increases muscle mass which also increases the metabolism
  10. Musculoskeletal system: most sedentary adults will lose a large amount of strength and muscle mass by age 70. This is a primary contributing factor to the loss of independence with aging
  11. Insulin sensitivity: exercise combats the primary mechanisms that reduce insulin sensitivity via disrupted insulin signaling

 

In addition, there are many other body systems that benefit from a fitness program. In fact, you could safely say there isn’t a large body system that isn’t positively affected by physical activity. You can not only prevent, but treat many diseases, in addition to improving the look and feel of your body with a fitness routine. Some additional benefits include:

  • Heart and lung health
  • Muscle strength
  • Weight gain prevention
  • Quality of life and life expectancy
  • Cholesterol
  • Pregnancy health
  • Blood pressure regulation

 

Exercises to Improve Overall Health

Regular exercise builds strength in the muscles being trained. Strength can be improved with both cardiovascular training and resistance training. Improving strength is a key factor in improving balance, stability, and coordination.Stronger muscles maintain greater coordination between the nervous system and the muscular system helping joints to remain mobile and stabilized.

 

Regular exercise also helps muscle tissue to regulate the storage and release of stored glycogen. This, in turn, helps the body maintain the balance of glucagon and insulin to maintain blood glucose levels.

In addition, over time, regular exercise counteracts the natural loss of bone density that occurs with aging. The risks of osteoporosis, bone fractures, bone breaks, and skeletal injury from falls is reduced.

 

Proactive Exercise

Purposeful exercise can be for maintenance of health, prevention of disease, or in promotion of healing. The latter is known as rehabilitation and it applies to injury recovery and physical dysfunctions. Rehabilitation works to expedite the healing process and restore functional capabilities to people with disabilities or impairments. A Health Coach will likely encounter clients undergoing physical rehabilitation as a short-term solution towards improved long-term health.

 

Rehabilitation exercise can also be employed to combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Fortunately, many of these effects can be lessened with regular exercise. They include:

  • Muscle weakness or atrophy
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weakened connective tissue
  • Cardiovascular deconditioning
  • Depression
  • Poor self-esteem
  • High blood pressure
  • Progression of type 2 diabetes

 

 

Exercise and Disease

In many cases, people with chronic health conditions are not well enough to function and move optimally. They may suffer from poor mobility, a lack of general strength, or carry excess body weight that impairs movement as a result of inactivity. As the science supports, improvements to quality of life from even mild physical activity can be a major benefit for clients even if their health (or conditions) cannot be altered. For example, little evidence shows that cancer patients can be treated with exercise, but the mental (combatting fatigue and depression) and muscular strength (strength and combatting deteriorating physical function) benefits have been shown to greatly improve their quality of life when living with cancer. It is strongly recommended to get patients up and moving in any way they are able in cases where exercise has proven benefits.

 

The Village offers a wide variety of equipment, trainers, and activities to support a healthy and active lifestyle. Life’s healthier at the Village.

10 Reasons Why Exercise is Good for Your Health

By: Molly Smith

Exercising for fitness is a great way to get the body in shape. But the benefits of exercise are so much more than just fitting into those skinny jeans. If you need another reason to get up and hit the gym today, we’ve got 10 reasons why exercise is good for your health.

 

  1. Combat Health Conditions and Risks — Exercise can put you at a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are “two of the leading causes of death in the United States.” Regular workouts can also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and even some cancers such as bladder, breast, colon, kidney, and lung.

 

  1. Stave off Stress — Who isn’t feeling stressed in the age of COVID-19? With everything going on right now, we could all use a stress reliever! It turns out one of the benefits of exercise is that it also helps reduce stress. Whether it was a rough day at the (home) office (even via Zoom in your jammies) or you just need to clear your head — exercise is the answer.

 

  1. Boost Your Mood… and Your Self-Esteem — According to an article on the Mayo Clinic’s website, “Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed, and less anxious. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.” After all, we should love ourselves unconditionally, but we can always use a little more self-love, right?
  2. Get More Energy — Looking for a little more energy in your day? Instead of reaching for that second cup of coffee, consider a workout! Exercising delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and ultimately helps the cardiovascular system work better, specifically improving heart and lung function. Even something as simple as a short walk can give you more pep in your step.

 

  1. Increase Life Longevity — Want to be a super-ager? Hit the gym… or a hiking trail. Whatever your preference, get moving in the name of a long life. The CDC reports, “Science shows that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.” The site goes on to state, “People who are physically active for about 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are physically inactive.”

 

  1. Kick Start Your Sex Life — Need a little boost in the bedroom? Getting more exercise and becoming more physically fit can help by increasing energy and self-confidence (both important in between the sheets!). But the Mayo Clinic notes that regular “physical activity may enhance arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction…” We’ll just leave that here.

 

  1. Reduces Depression and Anxiety — Beyond just reducing stress and boosting your mood, exercise can tackle mental health. It has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, too. Win-win.

 

  1. Improve Brain Health — If you’re having trouble remembering where you left your keys or to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, a good workout might be overdue! An article on the Harvard Medical School website states that regular exercise, specifically aerobic, can help reduce “brain fog” and even “changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.”

 

  1. Lose or Maintain Weight — Many people that are looking to get fit are also looking to control their weight. Losing weight to look better in the mirror or to feel more comfortable in your own skin is great, but there’s more to it than that! Losing weight can also help people reduce their health risks. For those that are looking to lose weight in the name of their health, proper nutrition is a key factor in this as well.

 

  1. Sleep Better — A good night’s sleep might be one of the most underrated parts of life! Sleep is truly essential for our bodies to recharge. An article on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website focused on exercise for better sleep states that exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly and can improve the quality of your sleep. One thing to note — some people may find working out too late in the day can keep them up at night (probably because of that aforementioned boost of energy!). Listen to your body when it comes to how to fit your fitness into your day to best serve your sleep schedule.

 

These are some of the most popular reasons why exercise is good for your health, but the list doesn’t end here — exercising has so many more wonderful health benefits. If you’re looking to get started on a new exercise routine, come chat with one of our fitness experts at The Village today.