Exercise for health - Sports Medicine Doctor Malta - Dr Danica Bonello Spiteri

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Exercise for health

Exercise for health (First published on vida magazine on January 2013)

Those who think they have no time for exercise, will sooner or later have to find time for illness – Edward Stanley

How often has your doctor recommended you increase the amount of exercise in your daily routine? How often do you lie to yourself that you ‘don’t have time for it?’ Yet the evidence is overwhelming about the positive benefits of exercise.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults should be active for 150minutes per week, yet a vast majority of adults are way below this benchmark. Exercise is not about achieving the ideal body weight, but rather about being physically active. An ideal weight person who is physically inactive is less ‘healthy’ when compared to an overweight person who is physically active.

This means that an ‘exercise prescription’ is the best medicine a doctor can give you. Regular exercise helps protect the body from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, back pain, and can also improve your mood and help you to better manage stress. There is no known magic pill that provides all these benefits in one! And the bonus is that exercise is free and can be practiced by everyone, anywhere! This also includes disabled people in wheelchairs, the frail elderly and the bedbound, although the ‘exercise prescription’ would be tailored for the individual.

The cost of inactivity is high. Inactivity tends to cause weight gain, loss of muscle and bone strength and decreased cardiac fitness. This will result in a person having to stop to catch his/her breath after minimal exertion, or else not being strong enough to lift, push or pull during activities we encounter on a daily basis. This occurs in simple everyday things, such as carrying a shopping bag, climbing a flight of stairs, walking an uphill or even simply on flat ground. This would frustrate anyone, as everyday activities will take longer than anticipated! Would it not be easier to include 30minutes a day to focus on physical activity instead? The benefit of increased fitness and increased muscular strength will then enable anyone to get through everyday activities in a more efficient and comfortable manner, without feeling worn out half way through the day.

Exercise will reduce the cost of buying medicines, buying new clothes because the ‘old ones don’t fit any longer’, repeated doctor’s visits, (which can be costly and timely!), fuel cost as some errands can be done on foot or by bike.

Ok, so if you are convinced about the benefits of exercise, the most frequent question encountered is ‘How do I know what to do?’ A Sports doctor is able to provide a tailor made ‘exercise prescription’ where the FITT principle is applied, whilst keeping in mind any illness, muscular deficiencies and joint or back problems that are present…….but more on that next time!


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