This time I’d like to share a great type of treatment I often recommend to my patients. Let’s run through the benefits first, and then I’ll let you know what the treatment is!
- It can help you quit smoking, and also limit the amount of weight you gain when you quit smoking.
- Even as little as 5 mins of treatment has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety.
- It is the only intervention that has reliably been shown to reduce the incidence and progression of dementia.
- Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are also reduced with this treatment.
- It can help prevent and manage osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures from falling.
- It reduces your risk of many types of cancers – bowel, uterine, breast and lung cancer to name a few, and it helps you tolerate the treatments for cancers including chemotherapy if you need them.
- This intervention helps you have refreshing sleep – it helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer, and also increases your energy levels during the day.
- It improves your sex life – regular treatment reduces your risk of erection problems (for men) and also increases your sex drive.
- It improves the appearance of your skin and reduces the signs of ageing.
- It often forms an important part of the management plan for kids with conditions including developmental disorders, and family pets and animals can also be involved with excellent results.
- The risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity are all reduced with this intervention, which is also used to help manage all of these conditions.
- It is very cheap, and the treatment can often be completely tailored to your existing lifestyle and health.
- It can work for anybody from infants to the elderly and can also be modified so it doesn’t adversely interact with other treatments.
- It has minimal side effects, sometimes transient muscle soreness which reduces with continued therapy, perhaps some sweating…
Hopefully by now you’ve guessed that I’m talking about physical activity or exercise.
Here are some ways to help incorporate exercise into your daily life:
- Try to normalise physical activity – walk up stairs rather than automatically take the lift (you can start with just one flight to begin with!) or park in the furthest car park at the supermarket. Put a set of hand weights on your desk at work and take a 30 sec break with them every now and again.
- Make it fun – think about what types of exercise you have enjoyed in the past, consider buddying up with friends with similar interests and fitness levels. Put your favourite music on and belt it out while you sweat. Use the opportunity to explore new areas and parks on the weekend.
- Prepare for poor weather – have alternatives if you can’t get out and about – use YouTube channels for yoga/tai chi, an indoor bike trainer or just a floor mat for body weight resistance work. Some of my patients like walking laps of an air-conditioned mall in summer – I think this is a great idea!
- Keep a track of your progress – write it down or use a fitness tracker to help stay motivated.
- Even 5 mins is a great start.
- If you have specific health concerns or limitations your GP and a qualified exercise physiologist or physiotherapist will be able to help support you to get started.
(By the way, did you like my pun about ‘running through’ the benefits? Guess I’ll keep my day job.)
Dr Cath Hester
These articles are not intended to replace a one-to-one relationship with a qualified health professional or as specific medical advice. They are intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from experience and research in the scientific literature. I encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon a partnership with a qualified health care professional.