May is 'Exercise is Medicine' Month. This was an initiative started a few years ago by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Association and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. What everyone conceded was that if Americans had the choice to get their exercise in a “pill” – they’d gladly take it; which is why it is up to every health care provider to discuss physical activity with you. You know what they say, “repetition, repetition, repetition.” It has expanded into a global program.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) just issued a report about obesity stating that we must to do more when it comes to will power whereas the National Institute of Health (NIH) just announced that we need to do more as individuals, communities, industry and government when it comes to obesity. If you haven’t heard, there is a four-part documentary on HBO that will be airing on Monday, May 14th and Tuesday May 15th called Weight of the Nation.
Just today, I got a phone call for my private practice, from an individual looking for “medical” weight loss – which means – she wanted weight loss drugs. Recently, I was trying to find the data about the number of people who gain weight after bariatric surgery and those who maintain their weight loss… there is none. However, insurance companies will pay for surgery and in some cases prescriptions – which may have faster, short-term outcomes, but fail to produce lasting results.
So what can one do? Well, it is the simple law of physics… energy in versus energy out – very plain and simple. Personal responsibility and accountability for the choices we make. When it comes to food – eat foods closer to the way they are found in nature… drink plenty of water and stay away from non-nutritive sweeteners. Portion control is crucial.
I prefer to use the term physical activity over exercise because many people perceive exercise to be that thing that you must do (a) in a gym, (b) in some skimpy clothing, (c) to the point of being out of breath, and (d) it will be painful. This great video was just released, starring the re-united cast of The West Wing about walking. It all starts with walking… small bouts count. A minimum of 30 minutes a day is needed, but 60 minutes is preferred. I had the opportunity to try out the LifeSpan fitness desk in my home earlier this year – my kids and I loved it. We actually placed it in front of our television and we took turns watching it during our no more than two hours of TV time. I wrote many articles on my laptop while walking – which was really helpful when the weather would have been an easy excuse NOT to walk.
Small changes can lead to big improvements. In a recent presentation for the NJ Governor’s Conference on Women, I gave the ladies some tips…. For each 30 minutes of television, there is 10 minutes of commercials, try to exercise during the commercials. Do some push-ups off a counter or wall, do leg raises while sitting, perform abdominal contractions while driving (at traffic lights) or during the course of the day to strengthen your core. Use heavy pocketbooks, backpacks or grocery bags for arm curls, bicep extensions and arm raises. My hubby is rehabbing from shoulder surgery and he cannot believe all the ways he can work out by simply using an inexpensive resistance band. The next time you are in a playground – get on a swing and pump your legs! Put on music and dance or get outside and do your own yard work versus paying someone else to do the sweating for you.
While we are all mentally “busy” – we need to keep our bodies physically “active”. Humans are meant to move and we are seeing the adaptation of our sedentary behaviors, in the extra padding in our buttocks! By taking a 5 minute walk every hour that you are awake – you can see how easy it can be to complete at least one hour of accumulated physical activity. As Nike’s tag line says, “Just Do It.”