Exercise: The Best Kind of Preventive Medicine
Exercise has long been prescribed as preventive medicine. Physical activity improves mood and well being, along with decreasing the risk of many health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, among others. Individualized exercise routines are also the bedrock of treatment for most medical conditions whether one is on medications or not.
Anaerobic exercise, also known as high intensity interval training (HIIT), focuses on a series of short, intense bursts of physical activity (usually one minute or less) followed by a short period of rest. These exercises strengthen bones and joints, increase lung capacity, contribute to a healthier heart, and build muscle. And as muscle mass increases, more fat is burned. Anaerobic exercises are extremely time efficient and beneficial for weight loss.
Aerobic exercises last longer than anaerobic; they’re usually 20 minutes or longer with a moderate level of intensity. Often referred to as “cardio exercises,” the heart rate and breathing rate increase and are sustained over a steady period of time. The heart and lungs become stronger and muscles are toned.
Some physical activities may focus on resistance training to build muscle, while others on movement, balance, and core strength (e.g., Pilates and Yoga). All play a part in a well-balanced fitness routine, stress reduction, and healthy living.
WFP’s Take-Home Advice
Our priority is to help you achieve optimal health, and an active lifestyle is the best place to start. Be proactive, talk to your health care provider, and use the following to assess your current health/health risks, activity level, and overall fitness goals:
- Sitting-Rising Test (SRT): The SRT assesses how well you can lower yourself to a seated position on the floor, then rise with minimal assistance. The test, which can be scored, is designed to evaluate muscle strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility.
- Core Strength and Stability: Gauge your core strength by holding an abdominal plank for two minutes. Variations may include holding a side plank on each side.
- Avoid Being Sedentary: Sitting too long negatively impacts your health. If you sit for long periods of time, stand up every 15–20 minutes to stretch or walk.
Variety is key: Vary your fitness routine with walking, cardio, high-intensity interval training, muscle strength exercises, core strengthening, flexibility/balance training, training with a partner, etc. We believe that when possible, it is best to exercise outside because of the more holistic value of this experience and the added benefit of getting Vitamin D from the sun.
- Utilize Technology: Fitness apps on smart phones, fitness devices/bands, and online exercise tutorials can help you monitor and control your level of physical activity and make exercising outside of the gym that much more accessible.
- Diet and Exercise: It can’t be stressed enough that a healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with regular physical activity. Drink filtered water and avoid sugar and processed foods when possible.
Research shows a sedentary life may lead to twice as many early deaths as obesity, so the key is to engage in some form of physical activity on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of activity at least five days a week is preferable and can be broken up into fifteen-minute intervals twice a day. Whether it’s light, moderate, or vigorous exercise, we encourage you to get moving, get healthy, and feel good!
Sources and References:
Zagst, D. (2013, July 17) Burn fat, build muscle, and better your health in less time with HIIT. Naturalnews.com.Retrieved August 7, 2015 from http://www.naturalnews.com/041229_HIIT_internal_training_exercise.html
Rosenbrock, K. (2014, July 11) How to Do a Plank Correctly: A step-by-step guide to proper form for plank exercises. theactivetimes.com. Retrieved August 11, 2015 from http://www.theactivetimes.com/how-do-plank-correctly
Mercola, J. (2014, February 14) 3 Fitness Tests to Assess Your General Fitness and Health Risks. fitness.mercola.com. Retrieved August 7, 2015 from http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/02/14/3-fitness-tests.aspx
Ekelund et al., (2015, January 14) Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study.ajcn.nutrition.org. Retrieved August 10, 2015 from
Quinn, E. (2015, August 3) Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test. sportsmedicine.about.com. Retrieved August 10, 2015 fromhttp://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/bestabexercises/a/core_test.htm
How Long Will You Live? Try the Sitting-Rising Test. USAToday.com. Retrieved August 7, 2015 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/02/26/sitting-rising-test-life-expectancy-fitness/24076407/
10,000 Steps USA. 10,000stepsusa.com. Retrieved August 12, 2015 from http://www.10000stepsusa.com/Why-get-involved/Walking-Research