As a physician, I often have patients ask me for insight into health, and how to be healthy. This is what I tell them.
1) Movement is life. Literally. If your heart stops pumping, your lungs stop expanding and contracting, your GI tract stops moving food, the consequences are life threatening.
We “should” exercise. Why? Exercise helps keep your heart healthy, improves your mental health, keeps your weight down. Also, the contraction of skeletal muscles moves lymph – the excess fluid from your tissues – around the body to those important filtering organs, the spleen and lymph nodes.
2) Sitting may be killing you. We sit at work, as we drive, watch TV, use the computer. Ironically, you’re probably sitting as you read this. Humans did not evolve to be sedentary, and sitting long hours has serious health implications. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Too much sitting …seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer”1 It’s also associated with conditions that range from obesity to abnormal cholesterol levels to increased blood pressure.2
3) Our sedentary lifestyles often lead to low back pain. Low back problems rank high among the reasons for physician office visits and are costly in terms of medical treatment, lost productivity, and impact on daily life. I like to say ‘every back has a front.’ Your abdominal muscles are as important in supporting your frame as your back muscles. By strengthening your core, you may just eliminate that nagging back problem you have. Here’s a guide to back health.
4) We are as different on the inside as we are on the outside. Imagine the variations in faces and physiques of your family, your neighbors, friends, co-workers. We’re just as unique internally. We have similar plans -organ systems, blood vessels, skeletons, muscles. Yet the internal variations on our insides are as numerous as they are on our outsides
Why is this important? One treatment plan doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. You need your health care professional to tailor your treatments for any condition or disease specifically for you. What works for one individual may not work for you
5) Be an informed consumer, and at the same time please don’t dictate your treatment plan to your provider. The deluge of pharmaceutical ads in the media means that many patients enter my office convinced they need a specific drug.
Companies advertise to generate profits. It’s your physician who needs to determine which treatment plan is right for you, not a pharmaceutical company
2 Katzmarzyk PT, Church, TS, Craig, CL, Bouchard C. Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):998-1001