Motion is Medicine
If you are having problems with arthritis, depression, blood sugar, or blood pressure your doctor might prescribe a medication that will help with your symptoms. But what if there was a way you could help to alleviate your pain and manage these symptoms without the meds? You might consider reaching for your sneakers instead of the pill bottle.
A favorite saying of one of my favorite local physicians is “motion is lotion”. He’s referring to the fact that people with arthritis can benefit from low impact activities like walking and swimming to keep joints flexible and lubricated. And strength training can assist with joint strength and stability in arthritis sufferers. Flexibility, joint lubrication, and strength translates to less pain and the ability to do more.
You might think that depression causes people to be less active, but researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a study that suggested the reverse. Their finding showed that physical inactivity and poor sleep contributed to depression symptoms and suggests that exercise could be used as a strategy to change mood states.
Several studies have looked at the effects of exercise on blood sugar and show a correlation between physical activity and a lower risk of developing diabetes. A key study recently showed that the timing of exercise may be significant. In that study better blood sugar control was achieved by taking a 10-minute walk after every meal as compared to one daily walk of longer duration.
High blood pressure or hypertension is the leading risk factor for death worldwide. A number of studies have demonstrated the benefits of exercise on both the systolic and diastolic measures of blood pressure. The reduction in systolic blood pressure has even been shown to last for up to 24 hours after exercising.
These four illnesses are just a few that can be improved with a regular dose of physical activity. The Centers for Disease control suggest that adults get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity physical activity. That breaks down to just 30 minutes a day. If you have the time and the ability to do more, you might want to consider it as more activity (up to 90 minutes a day) has been shown to increase the benefit. And whatever form of physical activity you can do will work. Walking, biking, swimming, dancing, or lifting weights are some to consider.
The scientific research into exercise and its effect on our health may be fairly recent, but the knowledge of its benefits goes back a long way. The Greek philosopher Hippocrates, (460-337 b.c.) also known as the “Father of Medicine”, is famously quoted as saying “Walking is man’s best medicine!”