The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1106: How to Find Time to Exercise

If you find an activity you love, like tennis or dancing, and have friends who are counting on you, you are more likely to make time to exercise.
Jordan Metzl, MD
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How to Find Time to Exercise

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Experts agree that exercise is crucial for good health, especially when it comes to preventing chronic diseases. Movement helps every bodily system function better. So why do so many people find it difficult to make the time to exercise? Our technology has lured many of us into a sedentary lifestyle sitting at a computer.

Dr. Jordan Metzl says it doesn’t have to take a lot of time to get enough exercise to benefit both your body and your mind. Short bursts of intense activity could be just as good as longer, sustained periods of moderate activity. In some case, the high intensity intervals may be even better. He also recommends working non-exercise activity into your day, like taking the stairs or walking the dog.

What Is the Best Exercise?

Dr. Metzl prefers to write personalized exercise prescriptions for his patients. Unquestionably, the best exercise is the one you will do on a regular basis. Consequently, it has to be something that is fun. There’s an added bonus if the activity is social, like a tennis match or a dance class. Knowing that others rely on you to participate can often be the extra nudge needed to help you find the time to exercise.

In addition to fun, many people respond well to simple incentives. One corporation has established a program to reward each employee $1 for every day in which the person walks at least 10,000 steps. Figuring out rewards for good behavior can help all of us work more movement into our lives. It may be best to exercise in the morning before the day begins and other obligations can interfere.

Exercise is not about weight loss, though people who make time to exercise regularly may lose weight. Most importantly, it is about controlling inflammation. Moreover, physical activity, with all its benefits, doesn’t have bad side effects as drugs do.

What About Dancing?

A few studies suggest that dancing is a physical activity with special cognitive benefits. Cohort studies of older people have found that those who regularly participate in ballroom dancing are less likely to develop dementia. Whether this is due to the cognitive challenge or the social aspect of dancing is not clear, but it appears to help the brain in ways that ordinary exercise such as running or swimming do not.

This Week’s Guests:

Jordan Metzl, MD, is a nationally recognized sports medicine physician who practices at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, the top orthopedic hospital in the US according to US News and World Reports. Dr. Metzl has created the IronStrength community fitness program that provides free fitness classes to thousands of New Yorkers. He has written a number of books, including his most recent: Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Exercise Prescription: 10, 20 & 30-Minute High-Intensity Interval Training Workouts for Every Fitness Level. The photo is of Dr. Metzl.

Joe Verghese, MBBS, is a professor in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology and division chief of geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is the Murray D. Gross Memorial Faculty Scholar in Gerontology and the director of the Jack and Pearl Resnick Gerontology Center. Dr. Verghese is also director of the Center for the Aging Brain at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. His research on dancing preventing dementia was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, June 19, 2003. A recent German study suggests that dancing can improve balance as well as fitness (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, June 15, 2017).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Holy Cow. This sounds like a certain recipe for injury for anyone over 35 not used to moving much. I’m a 60 yo female who lives off grid, heats 100% with wood (temps down to -11), hauls all my own water, and parks a half a mile from my car in the winter – up a hill. And that’s before the hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, etc done for fun. I also swim up to a mile once a week. I can’t imagine many Americans doing a one minute plank or push up right off the bat, rolled into 9 to 18 other difficult maneuvers. Yikes.

Too much, too soon is why most exercise programs fail.

Esp. after 40, one injury puts you back on the couch – once again doing nothing. People should check out XBX Exercises – Fit after 50. Ten daily exercises for strength and flexibility – gradually increased. Keeps me going – injury free – so I can do all the rest!

I listened and agree SO much! I used to not work out unless I had at LEAST an hour BUT then I discovered FIT (if you decrease TIME you can jack up INTENSITY). For example, simply doing Burpees but onto a pull up bar (and doing a pull up) until you can’t do more, then “recovering” by holding a elbow plank, then repeat these 2 simple exercises until total exhaustion takes only..well not very long for me.
Oh, and working in small things-stairs while at work, bicycle commuting-or at least parking at the back of the back lot and having a nice walk in past your co-workers still stuck driving around looking for a spot up front :-)) really adds up.

Put a CD into place-preferably pleasant music then do your thing my favorite is chair exercise good for overage 75 when the CD ends, you are done.

I am 62 retired and lost 45 pounds in 6 months by cutting carbs and going to the local mall and walking almost every day. Now I have an exercise bike with handles that work the arms too and use it when watching TV during the commercials, the fan blade on the bike makes so much noise I cannot hear the commercials, a plus. I get 30 to 60 minutes total almost every day.

I am 73, live alone and have cervical spondylosis. My central nervous system is affected and a shake all the time, mostly on the left side of my body… I have walking aids, but am too scared to go out on my own… I can still manage stairs adequately. What sort of exercise would you suggest I do other than going up and down the stairs about 20 times a day? I find computers are a wonderful thing to avert the loneliness that would drive me crazy otherwise… I have two cats too which are good for me, but I do not watch TV like most people my age. It is not computers they sit at they sit watching mind numbing TV all day. At least I am interacting with others and learning about many things… So don’t blame computers, blame TV certainly with older people who are so badly affected by cognitive dissonance as to never want to learn anything. They think they already know enough…

For every score on the two NFL games, I did 30 high-stepping marches in place. Maybe for the final game, I will make it 50 high steps for any score. That’s the best I can do and still be lazy.

One of the other benefits of dancing that wasn’t mentioned is that of touch. If you are involved in the kinds of dancing that involves touch, you are releasing all sorts of good things into your system.

It was great to hear about the cognitive benefits of dance. I’ve been ballroom dancing for 10 years, and aside from the health benefits, it has brought joy to my life. Not only have I met kind, outgoing, energetic people of all ages, I’ve also been introduced to a wide variety of music and have deepened my knowledge and love for music from different musical periods such as jazz, big band, western swing and bee bop.

Another benefit of dance is that it has motivated me to exercise more. My desire to strengthen my dance frame led me to Barre exercises and Pilates, which have given me relief from back pain I had begun to experience from long hours in front of a computer at my job. It has been easy to commit to these exercises because they make me feel better and improve my dancing skills.

There is a nationwide group with city chapters called USA Dance, whose purpose is to encourage social dancing. The city chapters hold social dances and can help new dancers find group lessons, individual instruction and opportunities to dance Ballroom, Argentine Tango, West Coast Swing and Shag for any North Carolina exiles. Social dancers are generally very welcoming and eager to recruit new dancers. USA Dance is a good starting place to learn about the dance community in your area. Although it takes some time to master dancing, It quickly becomes addictive and so much fun. Come dance with us!

Great show but needed to share concern for the senior population living well with arthritis. I am a certified TAi Chi for Arthritis instructor and appreciate the support for tai chi exercise. What about having Dr. Paul Lam with the Tai Chi Health Institue as a guest or maybe I missed him. Thanks again for supporting tai chi.

Ballroom dance / dance-sport is sport, culture, education and very important physical and mental health program. The entertainment is only the last one, what usually the people knows about the dance.
The ballroom dance is good for every ages – for different reasons, but for the kids and the seniors are much more important.
For the kids: the concentration improve a lot – and pasture, balance , coordination as well.
For the seniors: the serotonin level – hormone of the brain – is coming back after 4 hours of ballroom dance/week, and pasture, balance !!!!! coordination are very important for this age as well.
The dance helps a lot for the stress problem, depression, blood presser problem, mussels, joints, … and so many more…
I did have a lecture in a Dance Science Congress: Real benefit of ballroom dance
I have 50 years ballroom dance practice… / but ” I’m always 35 !” This is the dancer age ! ?
I’m a dancer, teacher / with degree / professional dance sport coach, adjudicator

Great show. I am a breast cancer survivor having had a double masectomy 8 months ago and live in Erie where the snow makes it difficult to get out and walk. I have been using an exercise trampoline for 30 minutes several days a week and have found it to be very beneficial.

It’s a shame that this worthy topic begins with a sentence such as “Our technology has lured many of us …” Technology does NOTHING, so let’s put the responsibility where it belongs: on us, since we choose to use it as tool, crutch, or drug.

Please explain what exercising has to do with fighting inflammation?

Sure. Here’s a link to one study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320801/

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