The time for you to move is no better than now. If you’re reading this, chances are you want to make a change in your life. Change equals the combination of knowledge, motivation and opportunity.6 Today we will review movement and exercise knowledge. I hope this message will resonate with you and provide motivation for movement.
Are you in pain? Physical activity can alleviate your pain. Running six miles has been found to release endorphins equal to ten milligrams of morphine.5 Are you depressed or anxious? Physical activity can elevate your mood.4 Do you have heart disease or high blood pressure? Physical activity improves heart function and regulates blood pressure.7 Physical activity can reduce and even prevent chronic disease. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), “seven of the ten most common chronic diseases are favorably influenced by regular physical activity.” The following are benefits of physical activity and exercise:7
Physical activity is movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle.2 Exercise, on the other hand, is purposeful, regimented movement. It is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive and purposeful.2 Although general physical activity is great, the body needs both non-purposeful, spontaneous movement and purposeful, regimented exercise.
Physical activity is safe, with the reported risk for exercise-related adverse events being far less than the risk associated with anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)8 or surgery.3 Why then are we so quick to take a pill or undergo surgery to reduce pain rather than exercise? Your body is not going to fall apart, has not already fallen apart, and certainly will not in the future. Our bodies are amazingly resilient. They may become stiffer as you age, but you can implement strategies to overcome that. Our tissues are made to heal in several weeks to a few months.
It is recommended to consult with your physical therapist or physician before starting a new exercise program, but everyone could benefit from increased activity. In fact, you can start right now. Just stand up! Current research is suggesting individuals should limit sedentary behavior, because it is linked to chronic disease.7
I recommend following the physical activity guidelines outlined by HHS. These recommendations include 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which can include any movement such as walking during grocery shopping, steps from your car to the parking lot, taking the stairs and exercise at the gym. For added benefit, you can perform 150-300+ minutes of physical activity weekly. The new recommendations count all your daily physical activities no matter how small.
The physical activity guidelines also include strength, stretching and balance. These types of exercise likely cannot be achieved by activities of daily living and will most certainly require a workout routine. However, there is no need to fret over whether you are a gym member or not. There are a plethora of home exercises you can perform including the use of your own body weight as resistance. Yoga is one of the best ways to get your daily stretching. I recommend my patients stand on one leg while brushing their teeth to work on balance. If you follow the recommendation by your dentist, you should be getting balance in several times a day. For more home exercise ideas, read our “Indoor Activities for the Weekend Warrior.”
Now how should you progress exercise? Progression must be slow. Let me say this again. Exercise needs to start slow. Your body builds resilience and strength over time. If you are an adult over the age of 18, you no longer have your body from high school. This means that our bodies respond differently to stress, pain and exercise.
Some of you may not be aware of the programs your insurance companies provide. Others may have a company discount on local gyms and not know about it. Review your insurance plan for available wellness programs. Individuals over the age of 65 years old may also want to research SilverSneakers.
Physical activity and exercise should be easy. It should fit into your routine naturally. Walking more frequently and taking the stairs are great ways to achieve physical activity recommendations without a formal workout. Exercise can be cheap if you use your own bodyweight. Not all of us need to attend a gym, but if we work sedentary jobs, we need to find ways to move more often or exercise. Knowing that physical activity and exercise are cheap and readily available, there should be less barriers to movement in your life. Get up and move! There are no excuses. Go find a friend. Exercise is more enjoyable while in community with others. Your body and mind will be much better off in motion.
If you are experiencing aches and pains, seek the advice of a physical therapist before you start an exercise routine. In most states you can see your physical therapists without a referral from your physician. Athletico also offers Free Assessments, click the link below to schedule one at a clinic near you.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Albert CM, Mittleman MA, Chae CU, Lee IM, Hennekens CH, and Manson JE. Trig- gering of sudden death from cardiac causes by vigorous exertion. N.Engl.J.Med. 2000;343:1355-61.
2. Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov. Access February 17, 2019.
3. Fritzell, P, Hägg, O, Nordwall, A. Complications in lumbar fusion surgery for chronic low back pain: comparison of three surgical techniques used in a prospective ran- domized study. A report from the Swedish Lumbar Spine Study Group. European Spine Journal. 2003;12(2):178-189.
4. Gordon, B, McDowell, C, Hallgren, M, Meyer, J, Lyons, M, and Herring, M. Associa- tion of Efficacy of Resistance Exercise Training With Depressive Symptoms. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(6):566.
5. Janal MN, Colt EW, Clark WC, and Glusman M. Pain sensitivity, mood and plasma endocrine levels in man following long-distance running: effects of naloxone. Pain. May 1984;19(1):13-25.
6. Louw A, Puentedura E, Schmidt S, Zimney K. Pain Neuroscience Education Teaching People About Pain A Clinical Guide. 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: OPTP; 2018.
7. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/. Accessed February 17, 2019.
8. Tannenbaum, H, Davis, P, Russell A. An evidence-based approach to prescribing NSAIDs in musculoskeletal disease: a canadian consensus. Can Med Assoc J. 1996;155:77-88.