By Amy Simmons, PT, TPS
In treating my patients with persistent pain and actually any pain, I have seen the incredible benefits that come from getting people moving. Even a small amount of aerobic exercise makes a huge difference. Most people would agree that exercise is good for our heart health and weight loss, but there is so much more.
I am an outlier in our clinic. There are others that look to move each day with intense workouts. I try to walk fast around the grocery store from a distant parking spot, play with my kids and go for walks. I have for years been able to maintain my strength and overall feel good. However, in the last few years I have noticed more aches and pains, memory lapses and sleep disturbances. In the last 6 months, I have begun to seek out more information from podcasts (Functional Medicine podcast) to newspaper articles on the benefits of aerobic exercise. I have learned that I cannot continue doing the bare minimum. Here are just a few striking benefits of exercise:
- Significantly less chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes with exercise and diet changes
- Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s up to 50% and slow the progression if you already have it
- Sleep assist- Just 10 minutes per day of moderate activity will burn off adrenaline that we get from stress or pain in our lives
- Improve mood and reduce anxiety- can be as beneficial as medications
- Marked improvement in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s
- Aging of muscles and bones is more related to inactivity than how old you are
- Gut health improves with exercise-more good bacteria in your gut
Some of these are more obvious, but the two that are getting me moving more are related to cognitive function and gut health. I cannot wait any longer to take care of myself. I am still a walker (and an occasional jogger), but I am a more frequent walker and strive to do more.
Start small- this can be as little as 5-8 minutes of walking. Every week add 2-3 minutes and soon you will be at 30 minutes. Then you can start with doing 1 minute of every 5 faster and weekly increase by one minute. Soon you will be doing a 30 minute vigorous walk. If you are already walking or running, look at interval training or adding a new activity. Explore other areas in your life that you need to work on like sleep, relaxation, or what you are putting into your body.
Make your health a priority and get out there and move. Your current and future self will thank you.