Being physically active throughout life is essential for good health. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle often makes it difficult for us to get enough physical activity to maintain a healthy body weight, stay strong and fit, and avoid injuries due to weakness, poor balance,and poor posture. Being physically active throughout life has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer, and osteoporosis. Physical activity can nurture our spirit while strengthening our bodies. Being physically active provides us opportunities for fun social activities such as dancing , group fitness classes and team sports. Physical activity also provides an opportunity to bond with nature while hiking, biking, running, gardening, and swimming. Any movement done mindfully, especially mind-body exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi, provide an opportunity to simultaneously calm our minds and energize and strengthen our bodies.
In order to maintain good health, people should engage in at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity that makes them sweat and breath harder than normal. Two to three times per week, people should engage in activities that strengthen muscles and improve balance. People trying to lose weight need to increase their aerobic physical activity to about 45-60 minutes per day.
Being physically active throughout life can prevent much of the debilitation and pain that comes with aging. I have many lifelong physically active patients in their late 70s and even 80s who are traveling the world, hiking up gorgeous mountains in the western U.S., strolling through charming villages in Europe, and snapping pictures of exotic wildlife in South American rain forests.
If you have not been physically active, have back, joint, or bone problems, or serious lung or heart disease, you can still enjoy movement, but you need to see your doctor first and possibly go through physical therapy or consult with an exercise physiologist before you begin.
Holiwell Health offers acupuncture and yoga and works with physical therapists who perform manual therapies to relieve pain and restore function so our clients can resume physical activity pain free.
As an integrative medicine physician, I prescribe physical activity for all my patients. I recommend individualized plans based on starting fitness level, pre-existing injuries or medical conditions, and personal preference. It is gratifying to see how quickly most patients progress once they start moving again.