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Exercise—Who Needs It?

Mar 22, 2017 | Health and Fitness

By Junève Gracieux, MD, with commentary by Dr. Kihm.

Exercise—who needs it?

Who needs a lower chance of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers?  Who needs a better mood, more energy, better sleep, stronger bones, a better sex life, and a lower chance of falling? Who needs exercise, indeed?

Sure there are medications to treat every preventable malady, thank goodness, but no pill can claim such a wide array of health benefits. Exercise side effects? None, save for the occasional sore muscle. True, exercise can be a tough pill to swallow.  They say we are creatures of habit, and couch potato habits die hard. Lifestyles are hard to change…though, not impossible to change. It will take some work, and motivation is the first step. Realize how exercise is going to help you feel great, then get the ball rolling! You’re already on the right track.

Where to start?  First, set aside the time.  Next, follow these suggestions to help get you started:

  1. Mind over matter.

The Department of Health and Human Services currently recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous* exercise per week for most adults. This essentially equates to 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. Budget your time to allow exercise to fit into your schedule. Pencil it into your smartphone and calendar as a daily reminder. Then, force yourself to exercise.  Do it!  Convince yourself that you can’t afford not to. If a block of 30 minutes exercise seems physically or psychologically daunting, divide it into two 15-minute blocks per day. Then, stick with it! Keep track of your progress by logging your workouts and weight every morning.

  1. Make the shoe fit.

There’s no point adopting an exercise routine to which you cannot commit. If you have significant knee osteoarthritis, opt for lower impact activities. Elliptical machines and stationary bikes are great alternatives to running or jogging as they reduce knee strain while still getting your heart rate up. For those with more advanced joint disease, consider water exercise. Buoyancy will offset pressure on the knees, allowing for a more effective (and pleasurable) experience.

For those with busier work schedules, exercise little (shorter duration) but often (more frequently throughout the week). Make it count! Short bursts of intense exercise are just as effective as longer routines, provided they get your heart rate up.

Some people find the buddy system effective. This works if your buddy is either equally as or more invested than you are. Otherwise, the effect will be counterproductive.

Finally, whistle while you work. Listen to something you’re passionate about while exercising. Whether a good workout playlist, your favorite audiobook or podcast — go to your workout prepared.

  1. Practice makes perfect

…but patience is key! Understand that you are incorporating a lifestyle change. Behaviors that have developed over time will inevitably take time to alter. Don’t get discouraged by a few mishaps along the way. If you missed a scheduled exercise session, don’t sweat it – pick back up where you left off the next day. If you are overwhelmed with work and can’t find time for 30 minutes, no worries – do fifteen. But exercise. Be consistent. You are conditioning your brain just as much as you are your body.

Dr. Kihm weighs in:

Thank you, Dr Gracieux, for the hard truth that exercise matters, and for advice on how to get started.  There are options for all of us, and the sooner, the better!  What a great place to lift-up Priority Medicine members’ free exercise wellness benefit at Physical Therapy of NC, with Yonica Rodio. Call us today, 919-471-3351, or call Yonica’s, 919-479-9001 and tell them Dr. Kihm sent you.

* Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, light yard work, biking at a casual pace. Vigorous exercise includes jogging/running, most competitive sports. A good rule of thumb to ensure adequate exercise is to aim to be at 55 – 80% of your maximal heart rate, calculated as 220 minus your age. Click here for target heart rate calculator.

Dr. Juneve Gracieux earned her Medical Degree at Duke and is now an Internal Medicine resident at University of North Carolina Medical Center. She aspires to practice Concierge Medicine, and is training with Dr. Kihm.




John T. Kihm, MD practices Concierge Internal Medicine in Durham, NC. Feel free to share this news blog.


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John. T. Kihm, M.D., F.A.C.P.

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