Exercise Is Medicine

Young woman playing tennisI love fitness and all aspects of fitness. Whether that is running, lifting weights, doing CrossFit, playing sports, or being active and outside. That’s my thing and what I enjoy doing, but at the same time I realize some people do not have the same enthusiasm for getting a good sweat on. I believe exercise is medicine both physiologically and psychologically.

As a physical therapy assistant, a CrossFit Coach, and a running coach I know this to be true. I think everyone has heard of the physiological benefits of exercise and being active such as it helps to control weight, it combats all sorts of health conditions and diseases, it improves sleep quality, and reduces blood pressure. If you just google the benefits you will get at least 100 examples of why we should be active, but the psychological side is a huge benefit as well. Increased activity can boost your mood, give increased energy, and put a big ole smile on your face because it can be fun as well. To cut throughout all of that and get to the main point, by being active that could possibly mean less doctor visits, less medicine you have to take, better sleep at nights, more energy to play with the kids, and a better overall mood. I mean who doesn’t want all of that!?

As a health professional and a fitness professional I believe exercise can also save individuals in the long run on healthcare and the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine agree. In fact, in 2007 they came together to form the “Exercise is Medicine” initiative with the purpose to make the scientifically proven benefits of physical activity the standard in the U.S. healthcare system. I’ve stated some of the benefits and reasons to exercise and to be active but where do you start?

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I live in Mississippi and we have one of the highest obesity rates in the country and what I have found out after talking with people is most do not know where or how to begin their fitness journey or they say “I don’t like to workout.” My advice is twofold and it is always the same. First find something active that you enjoy doing. If you do not like to run, then don’t run. If you do not like to lift weights, then don’t lift weights. However, if you have a passion for badminton then get outside and play 30 minutes of badminton every day. The point is to find something active that you enjoy to do because if you are going to get the benefits that I stated earlier then you have to get moving and stay moving.

It also needs to be something you enjoy because if you are forcing an activity upon yourself then you most likely will not stick with it and that leads me to my second point. My second point is that you have to be consistent with whatever you decide to do and shift your mindset from short term to long term.

Here’s an investing analogy that may help and I believe it fits here: If given a choice of one million dollars in one month or a penny that doubled every day which would you choose? If you chose the penny then you chose wisely because the difference is $1,000,000 in one lump sum vs. the penny that doubled every day that equals $5,368,709.12. It’s the same with our health — it’s the small seemingly insignificant steps compounded over time that help us to achieve our health goals.

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