Summer in Wisconsin is a special time of year, a time during which hardy Wisconsinites, having weathered the cold, dark, frozen tundra of winter, are able to enjoy a precious, and usually short, period of warm sunshine, fire up the barbeque, and make memories with friends and family. The key to summer in Wisconsin is to be outside! Being active is important, however, the entire year. The human body is made for movement, and exercise is critical to aging well!
According to Jordan Metzl, MD, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, exercise is the most powerful, readily available drug in the world, and it’s free! The health benefits of exercise have been known for hundreds of years. In 1553, the first book on exercise was published in Spain, walking was claimed to be the most healthful kind. Thomas Jefferson, in 1786, recommended “not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise and the weather should be little regarded.” Hippocrates, in 400 B.C., noted, “Eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise.”
Modern medicine has found that exercise has a powerful effect on the prevention of many diseases. Active people have lower blood pressure, fewer strokes and less heart disease, than people who do not exercise. Regular exercise reduces the risk of 13 different types of cancer, including breast, ovarian and colon, and Type 2 diabetes mellitus is both preventable and treatable with regular exercise. Exercise is the most effective known way to prevent, and to slow progression, of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. Activities such as walking or jogging, to using the stairs counts as exercise, the key message is to get out and do some type of activity in order to receive the health benefit. Many smart phones or watches count steps and anything you measure improves. Many sources recommend 10,000 steps per day. If a drug was invented that had all of the benefits of exercise, the drug would be the most widely prescribed on the market.
Remember, always discuss starting an exercise program with your primary care provider. Now get outside, get active, be healthy and age well!