Get Moving!

Dr. Anurag K. Anand Internist White Plains, NY

Lets talk about this—we need to get moving and each activity counts.

There is an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure that is increasingly affecting the younger population. It's actually scary how bad food choices, even as a child or teenager, can translate to a lifetime of pain, illness, and need for medications, doctor and hospital visits.

If you were told that there is a way to avoid this, wouldn't you want to do it?

Current guidelines from the American Heart Association 

Recommendations for Adults

  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
  • Add moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
  • Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
  • Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
  • Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.

Recommendations for Kids

  • Children 3-5 years old should be physically active and have plenty of opportunities to move throughout the day.
  • Kids 6-17 years old should get at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic.
  • Include vigorous-intensity activity on at least 3 days per week.
  • Include muscle- and bone-strengthening (weight-bearing) activities on at least 3 days per week.
  • Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.

Benefits of exercising include

  • Weight control:By eating healthy and exercising daily you will notice an overall sense of well-being in maintaining a healthy weight. Don't get bogged down by set criteria for healthy weight. I have found that unrealistic goals and aspirations lead to many regimen failures. Just start moving, even a 5% weight loss from YOUR baseline will help in so many ways. DON'T compare yourself to some image in a magazine or some arbitrary numbers out there. 
  • Blood Pressure control: Like I said, even a 5% loss in weight will decrease your chances of requiring BP medications. Exercising also helps relieve stress and anxiety, which has additional benefits.
  • Blood sugar control: Exercise and weight loss improves your glycemic control. Recent research has shown that long-term endurance or resistance exercise training improves blood sugar control in known diabetics by 0.5–0.8%. Exercise increases whole-body insulin sensitivity (the same insulin will work better). Effect of exercise training on insulin sensitivity is lost 5–10 days after cessation of exercise training. This is the reason why patients with type 2 diabetes need to exercise on a regular basis to achieve a sustained beneficial effect on blood glucose control.
  • Delay or avoid osteoarthritis in later years: Obesity means there is that much more weight and pressure on your knees and hips leading to more wear and tear. Even furniture will start buckling if you put heavy weights on it. Think about it—your hips, knees and ankles have to last a lifetime. Be kind to them!   

It is very important to build up gradually and not put too much strain on your heart, muscles and joints on the first day. You may not be able to do much the second day!! Build up gradually. Walk for 15 minutes the first day and then walk longer, then go jogging and maybe running, start with small weights and then build up.

I, personally, am not in favor of lifting very heavy weights. There is danger of muscle and ligament injury. Just work with 2, 3, 5 or 8 lb weights and build up on frequency. Listen to your body as you develop your exercise regime. Some pain and discomfort is expected as you start moving but there is a difference between good pain and bad pain. You should always warm up before exercising. Stretch your muscles before and after. Stop if you are experiencing pain while exercising. Take a step back, walk slower, and maybe lift lighter weights. Remember, take care of your body because with increasing life expectancy it is going to be around a long time!

You will find that your mood is better. Exercising is a stress buster. You will sleep better and you will have more energy at work, more focus. So get moving!