Move the body and make more friendsBy Veita Bland, M.D. / April 16, 2021
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Everyone knows how important it is to exercise and move your body on a consistent basis. Healthcare providers have encouraged this type of activity for years. Even the government has realized the importance of physical activity. If you are a senior age 65 and above, Medicare programs include gym memberships of some type. I am sure these programs have not been created to simply be charitable. There is long standing evidence that physical activity is especially important to one’s general health. When people exercise and stay active, they cost less to insure. They use fewer services from the insurance company. The insurance companies have thus made a strategic investment in keeping their cost down by providing gym memberships to you in order to keep you more active.
Let us be clear, exercising is not only good for the body, but also extremely good for the mind. Physical activity has been associated with improved mental health. Those feel-good endorphins that are produced from that physical activity are a wonderful side effect of physical activity.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has decided to drop into our lives and in order to protect ourselves many of us have drastically decreased our activities. Those people who finally discovered their bodies and were becoming what I call “gym rats,” suddenly had this vital activity torn away from their lives.
Some people have been able to transition to home exercising. It is amazing what programs and exercise equipment can be found online. So many different genres of exercising from chair exercising to aerobics to Zuma to yoga, weightlifting and the list goes on. These prerecorded exercises are free and can be accessed at any time for convenience. Many people are utilizing live online sessions and group exercise classes with various trainers. Some of these classes even encourage people to get moving outdoors.
However, too many of us have been unable to utilize these alternative ways of keeping our bodies moving and fit. The results of this have been an increase in our waistline, mounting pounds on the scale, and an actual decrease in the state of our mental health. We are experiencing a loss of joy, which has been followed by more physical aches and pains being noted.
In studies performed at the University of Limerick in Ireland, researchers showed that without the benefit of exercise, older adults are at higher risk for developing comorbidities such as depression, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, osteoporosis, stroke and arthritis. Their pain also increased without exercising.
As we move closer to attaining herd immunity via COVID-19 vaccinations, perhaps exercise will hopefully be one of those activities people can fully return to soon. As you think about exercising, remember that the friendships forged through such physical activities are also important. We are social beings and the lack of camaraderie can have negative repercussions. So, move that body and make some friends.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.