Get Active: Energize Your Life
The Best Medicine
“If exercise was in a pill, it would be the most prescribed medication in the world,” says Jeffrey North, MD, a spine and sports medicine specialist at Einstein’s MossRehab.
“It’s never too late to move toward a healthier lifestyle,” says Dr. North. Exercise can do many things, but you have to start to ‘do’ things to ‘change’ things.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
It can help:
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls (especially if you’re an older adult)
- Increase your chances of living longer
For adults 18 to 64 years of age, the CDC recommends – at a minimum –
- two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week
- one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.
The good news is that you can spread your activity out over the week – you can even break it into 10- minute intervals. Guidelines can be found at cdc.gov.
“The problem with staying active is that you have to start,” says Rosemarie Boehm, MD, a sports medicine physician in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Einstein. “It’s critical to pick an activity you can do, that you have easy access to and that you like. Walking is easy and it doesn’t cost anything. You can do it with friends and family, or with co-workers over lunch.
Dr. Boehm advises her patients to take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away at the mall, take the dog for a walk, visit a town or city and explore it on foot, walk the golf course instead of using a cart, and plan family activities and vacations that involve hiking, biking and swimming. “Just do one thing and you’ll feel good,” she says. “Then you’ll start doing more.”
Work Your Whole Body
“Our body is like a chain. Everything is linked together. If one link is rusty, it affects the entire chain,”says Dr. North.
Both Dr. Boehm and Dr. North stress the importance of cross training.
- Participate in different activities that will stimulate your muscles in different ways.
- Start where you can – it could be just walking one block.
- As you increase your activity, you need more comprehensive, full-body exercise.
- In addition to cardiovascular activities, it’s critical to include strength-building activities in your workouts.