The Miracle Drug: Live Longer, More Quality Years

August 23, 2022

Movement and physical activity is the closest thing we have to a miracle drug.  Did you know that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, and low cardiorespiratory fitness was the number ONE cause of preventable deaths from all-cause mortality?  (Mortality is death, especially on a large scale”).  It has been shown that inactive individuals have years of life lost, regardless of weight.  That means normal weight individuals who get the most exercise have the least number of years of life lost compared to inactive normal weight individuals; and overweight individuals who are physically active have less years of life lost compared to overweight inactive individuals.

Aerobic exercise can help your body composition (including bone mineral density, % body fat, lean body mass, muscle strength), glucose metabolism, and cholesterol to name a few.  Resistance or strength training decreases risk for injury, improves metabolism, reduces fatigue, improves sleep, improved weight maintenance, decreased pain, in addition to benefits of aerobic exercise already listed above.

Now that you understand the importance of physical activity, it’s time to activate this miracle drug.  Most health benefits are achieved at 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity.  Strength or resistance-specific training should be scheduled minimum of 2x/week for 20 minutes on non-consecutive days.  These exercises should focus on functional movement patterns:  squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, carry.

Schedule your physical activity into your week like you would an appointment.  Engage your family/friends and participate in activities you enjoy.  Focus on the privilege it is for you to be able to participate in the activity vs. seeing it as a “necessary thing to check off the list”.  Mindset is everything!  Start off slow and gradually increase to avoid injury or putting too much stress on your system at once.  Don’t forget to keep moving throughout your day – taking short walks, a sit/stand variable desk set up, short stretches or big muscle exercises you can engage in throughout your day.  I call these “movement snacks” and I encourage you to “munch” on them often throughout your day to keep blood flowing and your body in motion despite sedentary or repetitive work.  Even on your days off, resist the urge to lounge on the couch all day and balance your rest with light or recovery activities such as light walk, yoga, or stretching.