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April 05, 2021 3 min read

It can be challenging trying to find new, inventive ways to take care of our bodies. Not knowing what to do, or feeling stuck in a rut with your normal routine, can keep you from being active. 

Alarmingly, a 2011 study looked at 800,000 people and their sitting habits. The study found that those who sit the most have a great risk of disease and death (1). This has led to the increasingly popular phrase, "Sitting is the new smoking."

Exercise is a crucial part to overall health.

As Hippocrates said, "Eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise...work together to produce health."

With that in mind, a new perspective might be just the thing you need to feel more motivated and ready totackle a healthier lifestyle.

A New Kind of Prescription

Pat Doyle, a health science student at Arizona State University, made a trip to Australia in 2017 and ended up learning about an interesting health method often used there:exercise prescription.

Exercise prescriptions are where doctors prescribe — you guessed it — exercise. More importantly, the patient is sent to an exercise physiologist in order to help them learn how to safely and effectively exercise.

This method of treatment is especially helpful as many people (especially older individuals) are often reluctant to beginning exercising due to the risk of hurting themselves due to incorrect form. It can also be overwhelming attempting new, technical exercises like weight training. By having a medical professional nearby, learning important, healthy exercises can be done by all ages safely.

While this may not sound like a groundbreaking discovery, it is worth noting Australia’s efforts to help patients self-medicate with exercise and other activities.

While it doesn’t completely replace traditional (and helpful!) medication, it is one way to help many people live more independently and avoid potential side effects that can come with medication.

It’s Time to Get Moving!

After a number of sessions with their doctor, patients are able to perform certain learned exercises at home. This is beneficial for a number of health-related reasons. Sitting down for extended periods of time, day after day, can be damaging to our bodies.

As experts explain, “Multiple things occur in the bodyduring prolonged sitting: electrical activity in the muscles drops, leading to harmful metabolic effects. Calorie burn rates drop, insulin effectiveness decreases and enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides fall – causing a subsequent drop in HDL levels.”

Moreover, moving throughout the day can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and vein issues — to name a few.

Staying active doesn’t mean you need to start training for a 10K either. Active lifestyles can be anything from walking your dogs more to starting a new jogging hobby. Finding an activity you enjoy that also stimulates your mind and muscles can make exercising feel less like a chore. It’s worth trying something new! You might discover a new favorite exercise class or meet people you enjoy working with.

Reaping What You Sow

If all of that isn’t tempting enough, medical providers are now utilizing wearable technology (Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.) as a way to offer insurance discounts and other rewards to patients,according to George Washington University. They explain, “Much like the way car insurance companies offer steep discounts to safe drivers, people who exercise regularly and can prove it via an activity tracker may be eligible for lower health insurance premiums.”

This means that by engaging in some “exercise prescription” you can not only take better care of yourself, but it might also help save you some money. It’s a win-win.

Another tempting reason to work towards a healthier lifestyle is becauseit’ll make you happier. As we get older, slipping into the same old routine becomes easier and easier. To be fair, many of us are creatures of habit, and it’s difficult to break away from the cycle. However, enjoying a more active, health-conscious life means you’ll feel happier, more productive, and have better mental focus.

Furthermore, reaping all those benefits doesn’t just make the day-to-day life more enjoyable but is better for you in the long run, allowing you to have even more (happy) days.

Action Steps (Pun Intended)

What can you do if you are struggling to establish a routine of healthy and active habits? 

Taking a page out of Australia’s book, push yourself to find new and exciting ways to get active. Whether you speak with your doctor to get a referral or invite your exercise-guru friend, involving yourself withmore healthy practices means you’ll have more opportunities to enjoy everything life has to offer.

If it has been a while since you have exercised, be sure to check out these tips on how to get started

 

 

(1) https://theheartfoundation.org/2019/08/10/is-sitting-the-new-smoking/#:~:text=The%20study%20found%20that%20people,of%20death%20from%20cardiovascular%20events. 

 

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