Work It Out: Why Exercise Is the Best Prevention Money Can't Buy

Illustration for article titled Work It Out: Why Exercise Is the Best Prevention Money Can't Buy
Photo: Nejron Photo (Shutterstock)

What is a cheap (or free) medication with few negative side effects that can prevent and treat dozens of diseases? The answer: Exercise. Many of us have been inside since last year; we have canceled our gym memberships because we understandably don’t feel safe working out indoors. On the one hand, we are saving money, but on the other hand, many of us have not exercised since we walked out of the gym last year. Let’s face it, summer is coming, and we need to find our summer bodies—and stamina—somewhere underneath the “quarantine fifteen.”

Advertisement

Just in case you need a little motivation to get back on your exercise program, it’s not just aesthetic. Consider this:

  • Exercise prevents type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers (colon, prostate, and breast).
  • It treats type 2 diabetes and some blood disorders.
  • Exercising regularly can prevent and treat heart disease stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity, and its associated problems.
  • For those of us who are vain, exercise can delay the effects of aging (because “Black don’t crack” isn’t a reliable anti-aging plan).
  • Regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
  • It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.

Now that you are motivated to get back in the game, here are some tips on how to successfully incorporate exercise into your life again.

Start with short sessions and gradually increase your activity. 

If you have been inactive for a long time, start with short sessions that are no more than 10 to 15 minutes per session. Add five minutes to each session, increasing your time every two to four weeks. Gradually build up to being active at least 30 minutes a day for most days of the week. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise.

Grab a buddy. 

If you are still having trouble being motivated, get a buddy who can work out with you either in person or virtually. You and your buddy should check in on each other to make sure you have accomplished your exercise goals. With technology, you can even video chat while you walk or work out together.

Advertisement

Find exercises you enjoy. 

This may not be the time to start something new. Give yourself time to get acclimated to your new routine. Let’s say you love dancing—make that your “thing.” Dancing is great cardio and can be done in small bursts to your favorite playlist. Were you a runner in a former life? Perhaps you can start walking around your neighborhood, your house, or on a treadmill if you own one.

Advertisement

Now that you’ve gotten started, try not to take days off. 

You may have been used to taking a day or two to rest when you were working out before, but if you have not worked out in a year you need to stick to the short bursts of exercise daily. Even if you don’t do the full fifteen minutes, you can do five minutes, as long as you get your heart rate up each day.

Advertisement

Bring on the weights! 

After a few weeks, your workouts will be longer, and you can start incorporating weights. Make certain when you use weights you start out doing a lower weight than you were accustomed to in the past. If you struggle to maintain proper form or can’t hit the number of repetitions in your workout plan, then the weight is too heavy. Gradually work your way back up to more reps and then more weight.

Advertisement

Before you start any new exercise program or routine, talk to your doctor to make certain there are no limitations you need to incorporate in your workouts.

Let’s get ready for Hot (and Healthy) You Summer 2021!

 

Dr. Renee Matthews is a leader in the healthcare industry. She can be seen on "Out of Office with Dr. Renee" in 45,000 doctor's offices. Dr. Renee is the author of "Mommy, I Can't Breathe"

DISCUSSION

heathmaiden
HeathMaiden

I definitely got to experience some of this firsthand. I have been a regular exerciser for almost 2 decades. I am a gym exerciser and have never had much luck motivating myself to exercise without some kind of equipment. (I can’t jog because I have a wonky ankle.) So last year, when the pandemic started at the end of winter, I found myself going for 2-3 weeks without any real exercise. I would take my bike out if it was dry and a little warmer, but those days were few and far between.

I really noticed how it affected my health and my sleep, which was just extra stressful at a time when health was on everyone’s mind. When it became apparent that the pandemic was going into the fall and winter, I made sure to invest in a bike trainer stand so that at least I could continue to bike through the winter and avoid a repeat of March 2020.