To Your Health: Exercise Program You Can Stick To + More!

Part-time Telluride local, Dr. Alan Safdi, is a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist with encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine. He posts regularly on Telluride Inside… and Out under the banner of “To Your Health.” His blogs feature the most current information in his field: health, wellness, and longevity. Which now has to mean Dr. Alan’s podcasts and stories are mostly about what’s on everyone’s mind: COVID-19. In this week’s post, however, he takes a breather from the pandemic.

Links to Dr. Alan’s podcasts and narratives on COVID-19 are here.

This week, in his podcast, Dr. Alan talks in depth about the following:

1. Different types of exercise.
2. All-cause mortality and daily exercise.
3. Best exercises to start with.
4. Strength training.

Additional info, including lifestyle tips:

Exercise provides important and varied benefits for individuals with cardio-metabolic disorders regardless of experience level. Certain exercise types may yield better outcomes for those with certain conditions. Previous research has demonstrated that risk for all-cause mortality, cancer mortality and CV mortality can be cut by 31% to 60% by incorporating a daily routine of 30 minutes of physical activity.

For patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, benefits such as improved glycemic control and less insulin resistance are attainable via increased physical activity, particularly aerobic exercise.

Your exercise journey should begin with an assessment of baseline fitness —  much like a physician establishes baseline vitals and labs for a new patient. This baseline can shape strategy and serve as a foundation for later comparison. Baseline fitness measures include pulse rate before/after walking 1 mile, maximum number of modified or standard push-ups, flexibility, waist circumference above the pelvis, BMI, and length of time it takes to walk 1 mile or run 1.5 miles.

Once you establish a baseline, use these five tips to stick to your exercise routine.

Develop a plan:

Every good exercise regimen requires a specific plan. Vital aspects of a successful exercise blueprint include the following:

•  Set fitness goals. Possibilities include weight loss, muscle hypertrophy, or cardiovascular endurance.

•  Create a balanced routine that spreads the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise over the course of week. It is also possible to mix moderate and high-interval intensity exercise. Remember that even short bursts of exercise throughout the day can be helpful. For instance, try walking to work or using the treadmill while binging on your favorite show.

•  Strength training for major muscle groups should be done twice a week, with adequate resistance to tire muscles at 12-15 reps.

•  Start low and go slow. Don’t risk injury or excess fatigue by going all-out in the beginning. As you move further along, establish a pace that will not tire you out within 5 or 10 minutes. In the case of preexisting injury or medical condition, consider enlisting the help of an exercise therapist to develop a routine with sufficient levels of motion, strength, and endurance

•  Mix up your routine to keep things interesting and avoid overuse of a specific joint or muscle. Try walking, swimming, and strength training at different times. Other cool exercise ideas include hiking and ballroom dancing. If you decide to walk, maintain a brisk pace if possible. A good rule of thumb is to walk as though you are late to a meeting (or rounds).

•  Allow adequate recovery time between sessions to avoid soreness and injury.

Proper equipment:

Due to social distancing requirements, if financially feasible, it could be a good idea to equip your home with a stationary bike, treadmill, medicine ball, exercise bands, kettlebells and so forth. You may, however, want to try this equipment at a gym first. Keep in mind that it’s best to buy equipment you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy the tools of the trade, they will end up just gathering dust.

Invest in proper athletic footwear. Importantly, running shoes are light; cross-training shoes are more supportive.

Take advantage of fitness apps on your smart devices. They can be remarkable aids in your exercise journey, tracking distance, heart rate, flights climbed, steps, stride length, and more.

Monitoring progress:

When starting your fitness program, it is important to reassess personal fitness every 6 weeks. Over time, you may find you are exercising exactly the right amount to meet your goals. Otherwise, you may need to devote more time to exercise to continue improving.

Minimize sedentary activity:

Simply by decreasing idle time spent in front of the television, computer, or smart device, you free up more time for an exercise regimen. As mentioned earlier, you can exercise while binge-watching your favorite programs, but if you choose not to, at least set a timer so that once an hour, you stand and walk a few minutes.

With metabolic syndrome, (a group of risk factors that raise your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes), regular exercise has been shown to reduce individual components, including waist circumference, triglycerides, blood pressure and fasting glucose.

In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in Metabolism, it was reported that a supervised lifestyle intervention incorporating regular exercise and diet change reduced the prevalence of metabolic syndrome by 39%. Aerobic exercise alone appears to yield the most benefit for patients with metabolic syndrome.

Social support:

One way to keep exercise fun is to work out with a friend. Another involves signing up for exercise classes—whether they be in-person or online. You can also enlist social support in the form of a trainer. In a post-pandemic world, it may be a good idea to meet with a certified trainer virtually to help guide your exercise routine and monitor progress.

Here’s a look at 10 benefits of physical activity and why you should get moving today:

1. Lower risk of type 2 diabetes or diabetes complications. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes; another 84 million US adults have a condition called pre-diabetes, which puts them at risk of type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity helps prevent type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes (type 1 or type 2), you can help control your blood sugar levels by staying active.

2. Better brain function. Regular physical activity can keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp and delay the decline of these skills as you age.

3. More money in your wallet. Like $117 billion. That’s how much our country spends each year in health care costs associated with low levels of physical activity. Not getting enough physical activity can increase your risk of developing a chronic disease, which comes with even higher health care costs. Staying active is good for your health – and your bank account.

4. Lower risk of some cancers. Getting the recommended amount of physical activity can lower the risk of many cancers. These include cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach.

5. Longer and better life. Being physically active can reduce your risk of dying early from leading causes of mortality such as heart disease and diabetes. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity. People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40% or greater lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week. You do not have to go to a gym to have an active lifestyle.

6. Better mood. Getting enough physical activity can reduce your risk of depression and help you sleep better. Regular walking, for example, can improve your mood. Participating in walking groups can help you remain socially connected to your neighbors and friends.

7. Stronger bones and muscles. It is important to protect your bones, joints, and muscles as you age. Doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening physical activities of at least moderate intensity can slow the loss of bone density. Being physically active can also help with arthritis pain and reduces the risk of hip fracture.

8. Lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Being regularly active at a moderate intensity level can help lower risk for these diseases. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.

9. Fewer sick days. Physically active people tend to take fewer sick days. Some workplace wellness programs offer a gym, gym membership, or outdoor walking paths. If your workplace does not have a wellness program, management may be willing to start one. And you can always add physical activity on your own with walking meetings, physical activity breaks during long meetings, or taking a walk during your lunch break.

10. Better grades in school. For kids, school physical activity programs can improve attention and some measures of academic performance. Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, brain function, and classroom behaviors.

Always check with your personal health care provider prior to starting your exercise journey. That journey should last a lifetime.

Dr. Alan, more:

Dr. Alan Safdi is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for four decades and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastroenterology.

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