11 Ways Exercise Is Medicine

Get busy moving! For most adults, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity, and two-to-three days of resistance training in order to achieve health benefits.

Unfortunately, this is not happening. Nearly 56 percent of the adult population does not meet the minimum recommendations of physical activity, and about only 34 percent of U.S. adults have reported receiving physical activity counseling at their doctors’ appointments.

That’s  why ACSM has begun the Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) initiative. EIM is a way to increase fitness efforts and to encourage primary care physicians and other healthcare providers to incorporate exercise when creating treatment plans.

11 Ways Exercise Boosts Health

Typically, the general public hears the same health benefits as to why exercise is good — it helps your heart, gives you energy, helps you lose weight, and so on. These are all true, but there are many more reasons why getting regular physical activity is an absolute must, according to EIM:

  1. Reduces mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50 percent.
  2. Lowers the risk of colon cancer by more than 60 percent.
  3. Cuts the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 40 percent.
  4. Decreases the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent.
  5. Lowers the risk of stroke by 27 percent.
  6. Reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
  7. Twice as effective in treating type 2 diabetes as the standard insulin prescription.
  8. Can decrease depression.
  9. Enhances quality of life and ability to accomplish activities of daily living.
  10. Increases productivity.
  11. Boosts cognitive function (thinking).

Even if just one of these hits home for you, I hope you take the time this year to take your health and well-being to heart and enjoy the many benefits of exercise. (Check with your medical professional before starting any new fitness program.)

The Cost of Being a Couch Potato

Despite all the evidence and research that proves being physically inactive can increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic life-threatening diseases, the majority of the population remains sedentary.

Physical inactivity constitutes the fourth-leading cause of death globally, which equals roughly 3.3 million attributed deaths per year. As if death wasn’t a big enough risk factor, being physically inactive also has a heavy price tag.

Currently, physically inactivity costs the U.S. healthcare system approximately $330.00 per person per year, which equals more than $102 billion dollars annually.

The Exercise Is Medicine campaign is designed to provide fitness professionals with a set of strict researched-based guidelines when prescribing an exercise program to individuals with certain health conditions. Not all chronic diseases or health conditions are made equal. Each one is unique on how it affects the body, which means the types or frequency of exercise may vary depending on the condition.

Jennifer OAbout the Author
Jennifer Oestreich has a bachelor’s degree in health education and a
master’s degree in health promotion and human performance. She is a staff member at the Wellness Center at Mariners Hospital.

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