Exercise is Medicine (Healthy Aging Learning Series) Health Coaching Session, April, 2019
Rx from your doctor is - “ Exercise!” The concept that exercise is medicine is based on its science evident role in both prevention and treatment of various illness conditions. Physical inactivity is a risk factor for many major chronic illnesses, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers (colon, breast and prostate), also affect brain functions and aging. Exercise is an effective prevention and treatment works better and cost less than drugs.
Also to note, metabolic syndrome is an illness of modern life globally. Metabolic syndrome is a group of five risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The five risk factors are:
increased blood pressure (greater than 130/85 mmHg)
high blood sugar levels (insulin resistance)
excess fat around the waist
high triglyceride levels
low levels of good cholesterol, or HDL
Having three or more of these factors will result in a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and it will increase your risk of health complications.
If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, the goal of treatment will be to reduce your risk of developing further health complications. The recommend lifestyle changes may include losing between 7 and 10 percent of your current weight and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise five to seven days a week. Quit smoking is also important. The health benefits of exercise have been reported in many chronic conditions, including but not limited to the following -
Man who have a greater than 25% and women who have greater than 35 body fat is considered obese. Obesity is a significant health risk. Upper body fat, primarily in the abdominal region, specifically the visceral fat located within the abdominal cavity that surrounds important internal organs, puts up greater health risk for metabolic syndrome. Lower body fat which is primarily subcutaneous carries lower health risks.
Obesity is a modifiable risk factor. The most effective weight management approach is from a combination reduce calorie intake and increase physical activities. For example, reduce 500 caloric intake per day while burn 500 more calories from daily exercise. The exercise stimulus prevents the muscle loss typically associated with diet alone, also preventing the drop in resting metabolic rate. This greatly enhances one’s ability to maintain the weight loss overtime.
Coronary heart disease (CAD) is the most common cause of death globally. The major risk factors for CAD include obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, elevated blood lipids, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. These are all considered modifiable risk factors, which a person can make lifestyle changes to reduce these risks. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and raise the HDL (good cholesterol). The LDL and HDL ratio change within total cholesterol is a significant beneficial effect. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to be an effective intervention to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Regular physical activities lowers many of the other risk factors associated with heart disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the development of insulin resistance, which resulting in hyperglycemia (fasting glucose at or 126 mg/dl or greater). Regular exercise can help with the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes in two ways. First, a single bout of exercise can promote blood glucose usage for fuel by active muscles, therefore normalize blood glucose level. Second, regular exercise will increase insulin sensitivity in muscle and decreasing insulin resistance. As observed, a single bout of the aerobic exercise will increase insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle immediately after expense and can persist for several hours post exercise. Similar findings have also been reported for strength training. No pill can come close to these effects of exercise.
Cancer prevention and treatment
Regular exercise has been shown to lower the risk for breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Regular exercise enhance natural immunity, reducing inflammation, promote healthy bowel function, increase levels of antioxidants which will reduce the damaging effects from cellular oxidative stress known to promote cancer, reduce total body fat (as risk factor in several types of cancers), and minimize the effects of some hormones that contribute to tumor growth.
Physical activity has been shown to reduce the severity of chemotherapy side effects and promote overall quality of life. Exercise should be prescribed as the first line treatments for cancer related fatigue. It is also a powerful treatment for depression and anxiety.
Brain and Cognitive Health
Mind and body connection is clearly at work during exercise. Regular exercise is excellent medicine for the prevention and treatment of many brain disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Exercise stimulates the brain and blood flow are enhanced (up to 20%) in the brain during exercise. As vascular degeneration in the brain is a common cause for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the ability to keep brain active and maintain blood flow is critically important. Exercise play a key role in cognitive function. As slow walk speed is linked to higher risk of developing dementia later in life, brisk walks (at 3 miles per hour or faster) is recommended.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that progresses slowly. The brain slowly stops producing the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which results in loss of muscle movements regulation and body coordination. Symptoms include slowness of movement, involuntary shaking or tremors at rest, and stiffness of body and extremities. Exercise may strengthen and improve motor circuitry through mechanisms that include increased synaptic strength resulting from raised dopamine neural transmission. Exercise leads to increased expression of neurotropic factors, increased brain blood flow and increased neurogenesis, the formation of new brain neurons. Research continues to demonstrating the anti-depressant effects of exercise. Physical activity also significantly lower negative effects of chronic stress. Positive psychological effect of empowerment and self-confidence have been reported.
Bone health and Aging
Aging is a non-modifiable risk factor for many health condition, it becomes more imperative for older adults to minimize the modifiable risk factors and making healthy lifestyle choices. While physiological aging is inevitable, functional declines in strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility can be greatly improve by regular exercise. These benefits are significant for independence and quality of life in later years.
Sedentary life style contributes a significant reduction in both skeletal muscle mass (Sarcopenia) and bone mineral density (Osteoporosis). Loss of muscle mass with frail bones increase risk of falls and fractures in older adults, which significantly reduce one’s mobility and overall independence. Aerobic exercise effectively strengthening the muscles and bones. Strength training for upper body is important as upper body receive little benefit from the aerobic activities. Balance training is also important to prevent falls.
Get Started Today
Exercise is medicine; now what’s the dose? For adults, no less than 150 minutes aerobics exercises per week, Furthermore, strength training at least twice a week, balance training 20 minutes daily, flexibility and range of motion exercises are recommended for additional benefits.
Therapeutic goal = maintain active lifestyle Active lifestyle equal to or greater than 7,500 steps a day Sedentary lifestyle – less than 5,000 steps a day
One way of monitoring physical activity intensity is to determine whether a person's pulse or heart rate is within the target zone during physical activity.
For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person's target heart rate should be 50 to 70% of his or her maximum heart rate. This maximum rate is based on the person's age. An estimate of a person's maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person's age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 - 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm). The 50% and 70% levels would be:
50% level: 170 x 0.50 = 85 bpm, and 70% level: 170 x 0.70 = 119 bpm
Thus, moderate-intensity physical activity for a 50-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 85 and 119 bpm during physical activity.
For vigorous-intensity physical activity, a person's target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of his or her maximum heart rate. To calculate this range, follow the same formula as used above, except change "50 and 70%" to "70 and 85%". For example, for a 35-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 - 35 years = 185 beats per minute (bpm). The 70% and 85% levels would be:
70% level: 185 x 0.70 = 130 bpm, and 85% level: 185 x 0.85 = 157 bpm
Thus, vigorous-intensity physical activity for a 35-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 130 and 157 bpm during physical activity.
Moderate exercise is sufficient to claim many health benefit and it is never too late to start. Even if you are sedentary when young but started a regular exercise program later in life, the mortality rates reduction may drop as much as 50%. So, what are you waiting for? Get started now - it will not cost you an arm or leg, but a call for action to move more of your arm and legs.
Where to begin
Start with step 1 and gradually add on Step 2 and 3 to the simple routine, or contact RN@qualitylifeforum.net for a personalized program.
Step 1 Walk 30 minutes 5 days a week
Step 2 Using light hand weights twice a week
Step 3 Try a yoga or Tai Chi class
Track your activities and eats
Evaluate weekly (energy level, body weight, and overall wellbeing)
Stick with it for health benefits and your persistent efforts will pay off in the long run.
Rx from your doctor is - “ Exercise!” The concept that exercise is medicine is based on its science evident role in both prevention and treatment of various illness conditions. Physical inactivity is a risk factor for many major chronic illnesses, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers (colon, breast and prostate), also affect brain functions, bone health and aging. Exercise is an effective prevention and treatment works better and cost less than drugs. Moderate aerobic activities, strength and balance training are providing great health benefits. It is never too late to start. Even if you are sedentary when young but started a regular exercise program later in life, the mortality rates reduction may drop as much as 50%. So, what are you waiting for? Get started now - it will not cost you an arm or leg, but a call for action to move more of your arm and legs. The spring is in the air. Fill up your body with energy and enjoy the active life.
Sources: Exercise in Health, Wellness and Disease. R. Mazzeo. University of Colorado Boulder. Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. S.K. Powers and E.T. Howley. 10th edition. McGraw Hill publishers. Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance. W.D. McArdle, F.I. Catch and V.L. Catch. 7th edition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins publishers.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional for personal conditions.
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