Friday, October 14, 2016

Activity Living For Your Health

By Dr. R. Greg Lusk, DC

As the days cool off and the hours of sunshine continue to dwindle we spend less time outdoors.  With this migration indoors it becomes difficult to maintain the activity level we've grown accustomed to over the warmer months.  However, it is vital to our health that we do; after all, "sitting is the new smoking".

Regular aerobic exercise is known to decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, reduce anxiety and depression, and is considered the best treatment for fatigue.  It has also been shown to decrease the disability associated with knee osteoarthritis, decrease the progression of dementia, and delay cognitive decline.

A research study, titled the “Aerobic Centre Longitudinal Study (ACLS)” offers some startling results after observing the impacts of low exercise level, smoking, diabetes, and obesity on the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.  Remarkably, a low fitness level was found to be a greater risk factor than smoking, diabetes, and obesity combined!  That is a wake-up call that urges all of us to get moving more.

So, how much exercise is enough?  Exercise is Medicine (Canada) is a public health initiative “to provide national leadership in promoting physical activity as a chronic disease prevention and management strategy to improve the health of Canadians”, and it supports the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.  For example, if you’re 18-64 years old, you should be getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week.  Broken down, this is 30 minutes 5 days per week.  Now for the beautiful part….this can be achieved in 10 minute bouts that add up to 30 minutes!  Many people that I encounter on a daily basis appear to be time crunched.  However, I would argue that most of us could find 10 minutes of time here and there throughout our day, whereas 30 minutes all in one session may be difficult.

Here are some tips that may help you get your exercise in.

·        Schedule it.  You need to be selfish with your exercise time.  If not, it is much too easy to work into lunch, watch TV for a little longer, etc.

·        Involve friends, a spouse, whomever.  This helps with accountability, adds socializing time with people we care about, and makes it less lonely and more fun.

·        Walk a dog.  Dogs are great walking coaches.  There is data that shows 67% of dog walkers meet this requirement through dog walking alone.

·        Work it into your commute to work.  Park further away and/or add a lap around the block prior to going into your work environment.

·        Listen to music, or read a book/watch TV (only if safely on stationary equipment).  This helps pass the time.  Often, you’ll find yourself absorbed in what you’re doing and 10 minutes quickly turns into 20.

·        Track your progress.  What gets measured gets done.  Also, it can be quite rewarding to look back at where you started after a few months and remind yourself how far you’ve come.

I would also encourage you to watch a great YouTube video that summarizes this entire topic.  Dr. Mike Evans, MD, out of Toronto has produced an entertaining yet informative visual lecture on the topic.  It is titled “23 and ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?”  You won’t be disappointed.

Choose to be active today although it will not always be easy.  You’ll always feel great after you’re done!  This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice..