What if you discovered a medication capable of preventing or treating dozens of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, stroke and even cancer? And what if this very same medication could also improve your mood, mental health, emotional well-being and sleep, while also reducing your risk of dementia and osteoporotic fracture?
Luckily, this magic medication exists, and it’s accessible to each and every one of us. Better yet, it’s absolutely free and no prescription is required!
Exercise is medicine
Exercise is a truly powerful medicine. Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in both the treatment and prevention of more than 30 different chronic diseases – including some of the leading causes of death in our society. Exercise is free, widely available and its main side effects include an increased sense of well-being, more energy and improved strength and stamina.
Despite all these benefits, physical inactivity remains the fourth leading cause of death globally. The World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as one of the most important modifiable risk factors to reduce the incidence of chronic disease.
Currently, only a mere 25% of Canadian adults are meeting the recommended guideline of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Perhaps even more concerning is that only 7% of Canadian children between the ages of five and 17 meet their activity guideline of at least 60 minutes per day.
How to make exercise easier
For many people, beginning to incorporate regular physical activity into a busy lifestyle seems overwhelming. For anyone who has been chronically inactive but wants to get moving, a handy trick is to begin with physical activities of a shorter duration that are performed more frequently.
An example of this could be performing brief, 10-minute workouts for six days per week. By breaking exercise down into bite-sized morsels of physical activity, you can help break down perceived barriers and make your new routine much more manageable. Choose higher frequency activities (such as two short walks per day) – as opposed to longer ones – to help physical activity become an engrained part of your daily routine.
Looking to develop the perfect plan? Ask your Copeman physician or kinesiologist for an individualized exercise plan, custom-designed to suit your lifestyle.
What’s your exercise prescription?
Since we all have different fitness goals and interests, it’s important to get an individually tailored exercise “prescription” that fulfills your needs.
Exercise can be broken up into several core components, commonly abbreviated as FITT: Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type.
The FITT components of your workout plan will vary depending on your current health, activity level, goals and unique circumstances.
For example, while cardiovascular exercise is considered essential, strength or resistance exercise has also been shown to further reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Adults, and particularly older adults, can benefit by performing strengthening activities at least twice per week. Children should also engage in activities that help strengthen their muscles and bones a minimum of three days per week in order to optimize their skeletal health and promote neuromuscular development. Most kids do this naturally during outdoor play – think climbing, playing on monkey bars and jumping!
Exercise is like a “super drug” that boasts countless health benefits and life-saving side effects – and your Copeman team is standing by to help. Just remember that movement is medicine – so make sure you take yours daily!