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    EXERCISE – The ‘Whys’, ‘Whats’, ‘Wheres’, ‘Whos’ and ‘Hows’

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | October 23rd, 2016

    A few weeks ago, I read a fascinating article in Time magazine written by Mandy Oaklander titled – The Exercise Cure, The Surprising Science of a Life-Changing Workout. After reading the article, I realized as a physician, I was not doing enough just telling patients, “It is important to exercise at least 3 – 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes, it will keep you healthy”. Maybe if I discussed the Whys? – People would look at exercise differently.  Unfortunately, the 15 minute office appointment does not allow one to expand beyond encouraging one to exercise.

    Why should you exercise?

    Research shows that exercise is good for the body from the head to toe, literally. According to the article, exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells through the protein brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect the brain cells from degeneration. Exercise is the best way to prevent and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Exercise is associated with better memory and quicker learning.

    Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that dulls pain, lightens mood and relieves stress. This helps relieve chronic pain and helps with depression.

    Certain exercise causes your breathing to speed up, your blood to flow faster and your heart to pump more of it, shooting oxygen out to the tissues in the rest of the body. This is great for the heart, muscles, and lungs. This also helps with skin health. It also helps with your vision.

    Exercise has been shown to slow aging. It helps with management of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

    Unfortunately, exercise is not an effective way to lose weight. It is good with maintaining weight and preventing weight gain. With exercise, you are able to metabolize more fat as an energy source. This helps decrease the fat cells in our body which helps decrease inflammation in our body.

    What type of exercise?

    According to the article you must do both aerobic physical activity and strength training to get the benefits of exercise. Half of Americans meet the recommendations for aerobic exercise, but only 20 % of people do strength training. I would also add flexibility and balance.

    Aerobic physical activity – any exercise that is going to get your heart rate up – walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing

    Muscle-strength exercises – builds and maintains muscle and bones – lifting weight, working with resistance bands, heavy gardening, yoga, Tai Chi, exercise using your body weight for resistance (push ups, sit ups), The Key Three Strength Program

    Flexibility – stretches the muscle and keeps your joints limber – basic stretches,   Pilates, Tai Chi – after work outs

    Balance – very important as you age – Yoga, Tai Chi, alternating standing on one foot exercise

    Where should you exercise?

    You can join a gym or you can do it at home. You can even do it at work. Moving is important.

    Who should exercise?

    Almost everyone can exercise. It does not matter your age. Check out the previous blog, So, What is Your Excuse? -Granted there are some exercises that cannot be done under certain conditions. This is where you should talk with your physician to make sure that you do not have any restrictions.

    How long should you exercise?

    Aerobic exercises – Although it is recommended 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week, it is more important to do something. If you only have 10 minutes, then do 10 minutes. Something is better than nothing.

    Muscle strength exercises – at least 20 minutes, 2 -3 days a week. Wait at least a day between exercising the same muscle groups to allow body to recover. Again, if you only have a few minutes – something is better than nothing.

    Flexibility – stretch after your workout

    Balance – a few times a week


    If you have been exercising, continue. If you are new to exercising, start out slowly. There are days you will not feel like doing anything, that is ok; I just hope you feel like doing something on more days. Find a friend. Do something that you enjoy. Time is the number one reason why people do not exercise, consider exercise an investment in your health

    For more information on exercises with videos check out the CDC website.


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    6 Responses to “EXERCISE – The ‘Whys’, ‘Whats’, ‘Wheres’, ‘Whos’ and ‘Hows’”

    1. April Davis says:

      A great article as well a good reminder of the importance of exercising.

    Leave a Reply

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