July 15, 2024
Exercise is insurance for good health

The prescription for wellness and being able to live an active and independent life is to keep moving.

Health is not just the absence of sickness, but it is an optimal balance of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Most times, being healthy is a choice. While it is true that some have larger obstacles such as family history of chronic disease or obesity, lingering effects from past illness, or an accident or injury that may cause long-term deficits, we can and should take control of our own health.

A healthy lifestyle is a proactive approach to taking control of your health in an effort to improve your quality of life. Whether you are recovering from an illness, an accident, or working toward prevention and maintenance of good health, understanding the role physical activity and other healthy habits play is important.

Research from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggests up to 80 percent of chronic disease cases can be prevented through healthy living. The CDC says we should strive to meet the following healthy-living factors:

• Maintain a healthy weight: A BMI of less than 30 is considered healthy.

• Refrain from tobacco use: Do not start smoking, and quit if you actively engage in tobacco use.

• Be active: Get 30 minutes or more of moderate to intense exercise to equal at least 150 minutes a week.

• Diet: Include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources in your diet

Following this guidance can decrease risk for diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancers. Aside from prevention, exercise can also be used to rehab many illnesses, improve mental health, maintain weight, ease osteoporosis or arthritis, and much more. Exercise can also help those suffering from lingering effects of COVID-19 such as fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fast or pounding heartbeat, anxiety or depression, concentration, memory loss and joint discomfort.

As you begin to exercise, remember to start slow and monitor your progress while being aware of how the movement makes you feel. Start with a slow walk and gradually progress. Walking, biking and swimming are great ways to improve your cardiovascular condition and breathing. Once you feel comfortable with light to moderate exercise, more intense movement such as running, hiking or cardio classes might be appropriate.

Muscle strengthening exercises are also important. Sit to stands, squats, basic upper extremity movements and core conditioning is especially beneficial. Remember to stretch each muscle through its range of motion as this will ease joint discomfort and help improve general movement.

The Sam B. Cook Healthplex has a team of professionals that can help you get started in the right direction. Cardiac nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, athletic trainers and exercise specialists will work together to get you safely on your way to improved health through exercise and movement.

Whatever your reason, exercise is right for you! Think about it as insurance for good health.

Kay Benward is an exercise specialist and supervisor at the Sam B. Cook Healthplex Fitness Center in Jefferson City. She has been with Capital Region Medical Center for 30 years and inspired many people to lead healthy lives through exercise. She continues to teach classes and enjoys training the mature adult for balance, posture and functional strength, as well as educating her clients, staff and community on exercise as medicine.