If there was one prescription that could reduce the severity or even prevent dozens of diseases—including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis, some cancers, depression, and dementia—and it also had a low risk for adverse effects, who wouldn’t consider it? Good news. There is such a prescription. It’s EXERCISE!
In addition to better cardiovascular and metabolic health, adults who exercise have a reduced risk for poor mental health, better balance and joint mobility, a lower risk for disturbed sleep, and a reduced risk for musculoskeletal disorders like neck and back pain. Exercise also helps to bring nutrients to cartilaginous tissues, which can keep the joints healthy and reduce symptoms in patients with arthritis. These benefits help working-age adults carry out their daily work and family obligations, and they help seniors stay active and independent due to better cognitive health, a reduced risk for comorbidities, and a lower risk for serious falls.
Exercise also benefits young adults by improving their ability to manage stress and to perform better in school and the workplace. Several studies have even shown that children who are more active tend to perform better academically. Furthermore, teens who are physically active are more likely to be active as adults, which sets the stage for a lifetime of good health.
Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only about half of adults meet federal guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week. Additionally, 1-in-2 adults live with a chronic disease and about half of this group have two or more chronic illnesses. It’s estimated that meeting physical activity guidelines can prevent 1-in-10 premature deaths, 1-in-8 cases of breast cancer and colorectal cancer, 1-in-12 cases of diabetes, and 1-in-15 cases of heart disease. The Department of Defense has stated that 1-in-4 young adults who apply for a position in the armed forces is too heavy to be accepted.
While exercise is important for maintaining good health, it’s also worth noting that any intensity of physical activity is beneficial, especially when it replaces prolonged periods of sedentary behavior, which studies show can lead to a number of poor health outcomes.
If you’re already active, that’s great. Keep it up. If you’re out of shape and looking to get started, take it a day at a time and experiment with different forms of exercise to see what you like best so that you’ll be consistent. If aches and pains are getting in the way, contact your doctor of chiropractic so that he or she can evaluate you and work with you to manage your condition so that you can start exercising and get back to the activities you enjoy most.