I was recently browsing the Special Edition of Time Magazine on “The Science of Exercise,” and read an article written by Dr. Jordan D. Metzl, a Sports Medicine Doctor at the hospital for Special Surgery in New York about using movement as medication. The article covers quite a few important and interesting facts on how and why movement and exercise should be used as a go to “medication” to treat any number of conditions. In fact, among many reasons he noted in his article, he notes that medical costs will be lower, sleep will improve, you’ll experience more productive days, and risks for developing almost any chronic disease will drop. The best part? It works for almost everyone, and done correctly has little to no negative side effects and is 100% effective, even when taken in small doses. He quotes that “it’s the most powerful, readily available drug in the world. And it’s free.” What could be better than a 100% effective, FREE, readily available medication that is universal in it’s usefulness?
So why is this news to us? That is because “Healthcare in the US is, in practice, more like “sick care.” Meaning that the US, in general, has the practice of reactive care, not proactive. We tend to not handle things until there is an issue… then when there is an issue, we scramble to correct it through many different corrective measures such as tests, scans, prescription medications and more. What is the result of this? An increasingly unhealthy population on average.
Proactive care is the answer to lowering disease and health care costs. How do we know this to be a fact? There is over 60 years worth of scientific research that has shown the undeniable medicinal value of incorporating exercise as a proactive, preventative measure to keeping one’s health well. How exactly, though, is this? Dr. Metzl goes on to tell us just that.
Studies have shown that individuals whose jobs are more active than sedentary have a much lower risk of and die less often from heart attacks and heart failure than those of similar age and health. Further studies also showed that this link between activity and prevention of health conditions extends to things such as lower blood pressure, stroke rates, diabetes, and even cancer. That’s not even to mention the mental health and well-being that comes from exercise- which is a topic that we’ve covered quite a few times in the past. Essentially exercise is “armor for the body.”
This is a prescription everyone can and should take! No matter your age or health status, there is some sort of exercise or movement regimen that everyone can do. Unsure where to start? Seek medical advice for what would be appropriate for you. This can be from your Primary Care Physician or a Physical Therapist. It is always a good idea if you have a preexisting condition that you consult your doctor so that you do not make matters worse with exercise that could be harmful to you. Keep an open dialogue with your doctor so you can adjust your regimen as time progresses.
How else is this prescription beneficial for all the things mentioned above? Setting a good example for friends, family, children etc is the first step in creating a wide spread movement for better health proactively. Teaching your children means they will get in these habits earlier, which means they’ll be healthier… and they will positively influence their friends, and eventually their own children- and the results could be a shift of focus to proactive medicine first.
Will this stop all sickness and end disease? No, likely not… but it could stop it for you and/or your family… or at least lower the likelihood of it, and increase your ability to recover from anything that you do develop.