Published on January 25, 2022

Exercise as Medicine

smiling woman exercising

There is probably nothing you can do for yourself that will have a more positive impact on your life than exercise.

    Besides quitting smoking, there is probably nothing you can do for yourself that will have a more positive impact on your life than exercise.

    Many drugs that you take may have 10 or 15 good, solid good studies behind them that show positive benefit. We have hundreds of high quality studies that show the benefits of exercise on multiple different conditions and medical diagnoses.

    Weight Loss

    Let’s start with the least good and work our way up. Exercise is probably least good at weight loss, which is what most people associate with exercise. What you eat has the most influence on weight loss, but exercise is an important component.

    High Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure and diabetes are two of the most common conditions in America and especially in Mississippi. After a single moderate intensity workout, you’ll see an immediate reduction in blood pressure that can last up to 24 hours. Because blood pressure is a major risk factor, that alone over time can reduce your chance of heart attack by 9% and stroke risk by 14%. If you also lose weight, that helps reduce your risk too.

    Diabetes

    Blood pressure and diabetes go hand in hand, so lowering your blood pressure also helps lower your risk for diabetes. If you have diabetes, exercise can help treat it too, as many studies have shown over the past 10-20 years of study.

    Mental Health

    Exercise increases the release of endorphins, or “feel good” hormones, and serotonin in your brain. Many antidepressants people take are basically trying to do the same thing.

    Exercise also leads to a sense of accomplishment. That makes you feel better about yourself in general, which can boost mental health as well.

    Exercise also substantially decreases the rate of dementia, which will affect your mental health later in life.

    Get Started

    If you want to start—or start back—exercising, talk to your doctor. Most people will be cleared to exercise right off the bat. However, if you have a health condition like poorly controlled diabetes, we may want to do a few tests before we recommend moderate or vigorous exercise.

    Your doctor can help guide you to the best kind of exercise for you, depending on your goals and the amount of time you’re willing to commit. You need to go with an exercise regimen that you can keep up over the long haul.

    If you start by walking and can't go as far as you want the first day, that is fine. You did it. If you walk for five minutes the first day, congratulate yourself on that and next time try to walk for six minutes.

    Health care and wellness professionals at our clinics and Wellness Centers are here to help you succeed.