This is why we want you to Exercise

This is why we want you to Exercise

The following article was written by Dr. Kristine L. Soly and published on

We would consider it a miracle if there were a drug that could prevent heart attacks, strokes, and cancer; prevent or improve high blood pressure and diabetes, reduce angina and improve abnormal heart rhythms, reduce “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase “good” cholesterol; reduce insulin requirements or the dosage of diabetes drugs; improve your sex life, improve bowel function and relieve PMS.  It would be even more of a miracle if it could also prevent or improve osteoporosis, prevent falls resulting in hip (and other) fractures, prevent or improve back pain, increase muscular strength and flexibility; relieve fatigue and increase energy levels and cause weight loss.  And it would be truly unbelievable if, in addition, it could decrease stress and tension, relieve depression, anxiety, and hostility; help stop smoking or drug abuse, increase self esteem. improve mental acuity and function; improve the quality of sleep, add joy and spontaneity to life and finally, increase longevity.

If there were a miracle drug that could do all these, it is likely that we would be willing to pay any amount of money for it and take it as often and for as long as was necessary.  Well, there isn’t any drug that comes even close to doing all of these things.  But there is something that will—it’s called exercise.

The medical literature is replete with studies that demonstrate the value of exercise.  There is not one study that shows that exercise is bad for you.  In fact, in a world gone crazy with changing medical advice, where everyone wonders which of the latest studies to believe, all physicians seem to agree that exercise is good for you.

Despite this, we remain a nation of couch potatoes, where over 60% of us fail to exercise on any regular basis.  A sedentary lifestyle represents our biggest risk factor for coronary heart disease (our number 1 killer), not because it is more important than the other risk factors, but because it is so prevelant.

So, why do we not do something that is so obviously beneficial? It’s no mystery.  It’s the same reason we don’t do anything.  It has not been personalized for us.  We don’t see what’s in it for us and we don’t know how.

For exercise to be therapeutic (as well as fun) it has to be something the individual likes to do.  No one will persevere doing something that brings no pleasure.  Thereafter, it has to be able to result in the desired effect (eg. it must increase bone strength in order to decrease osteoporosis).  Then, it must be clear how the exercise program is to be started, with gradual beginning steps that allow safe progression to a full exercise protocol.  Finally, there has to be regular encouragement and re-evaluation to deal with the inevitable lapses that occur with any lifestyle change.  Rarely does anyone significantly change established behavior without some backsliding.

Although it has been repeatedly demonstrated that a physician’s request to change behavior is a powerful motivator, it’s clear that just giving the advice to exercise is not going to work.  This was clearly seen in the days before cardiac rehabilitation programs were established.  Physicians  recommended that patients start to exercise, but few of them did until they had a program to go to that personalized the exercise for them and taught them how to do it.

But a cardiac rehabilitation program has the patient coming in for one hour 3 times each week for 12 weeks in order to establish a regular exercise protocol.  In these days where the average physician’s visit is 6 minutes, there is no time to do what is necessary to establish a good exercise program.  There is not even time to adequately deal with disease in that brief visit.  The medical care system that exists today is deplorable because it fails to show us how to prevent disease.

So where does that leave you?  In most cases, pretty much on your own.  Those who have a knowledgeable physician who spends the time with them are the fortunate few.  They will learn to exercise and reap all the benefits that this “miracle” has to offer. Otherwise, you have to make clear to your physicians that you think that prevention of disease is as important as treatment.  But even where physicians are willing, they are often as ignorant of exercise as they are of nutrition or stress management.  It wasn’t taught in medical school so they are unlikely to be able to help you.  But they can (and will) refer to appropriate rehabilitation or physical therapy programs.  It may take nothing more than a firm request on your part, especially if you have a medical condition than can be improved by exercise, and most can be.

You can also get the information you need by yourself.  It just takes some effort.  There are many books written on the subject, and many are in paperback.  There’s also the gym or health club where (for a fee) you can often get some pretty good advice.  It’s just difficult to judge whether the advice is appropriate for you since these are not medically trained professionals.  But for healthy people this can be a good, safe source.

Then there are non-physician medical professionals who specialize in exercise programs, often listed under Physical Therapy in the Yellow Pages.  These are good for people with and without disease.  Finally, look for free seminars on exercise (and on other preventive measures) which may be offered by various medical professionals.  These are usually advertised in the newspapers.

The bottom line is this—whatever it takes to learn it and however you have to do it, exercise. It’s cheap, everyone can do it regardless of age, no one is allergic to it, and (done properly) there are no bad side effects.  It’s the “miracle” cure you’ve all been waiting for, and no one can live well or long without it

Dr. Soly is Board Certified in Cardiology, Internal Medicine, and Holistic Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology.  She practices Holistic Cardiology and is the director of the Holistic Cardiology Learning Center at 220 Andrews Lane, Crossville, TN.  Phone: 610-828-8676.

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