Exercise Is Medicine: Overcoming Disease with Physical Activity

Americans are facing what is referred to as an “inactivity epidemic.” Physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health problem and contributes to a variety of chronic diseases and health complications, including obesity, diabetes and cancer.  Even with all the benefits of physical activity, in the U.S. and many other countries, levels of inactivity are alarming.  The Wellness Connection at OCH Regional Medical Center is drawing attention to this issue and urging individuals and families to increase physical activity during May’s Exercise is Medicine Month.

“Exercise either directly affects or influences every single system in your body,” said OCH Wellness Connection Personal Trainer and Clinical Exercise Physiologist Steven McCorkle.  “The latest information shows we can manage and prevent many diseases through exercise by regulating and normalizing your bodily systems.  Our bodies were designed to function best when we are active.  A few key areas exercise has its most profound influence are metabolism, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, endocrine system (hormones), psychological (stress) and systemic health/strength,” explained McCorkle at a recent lunch-and-learn held at the Medical Center.

Eric and Michelle Foote recently joined the OCH Wellness Connection and attended the lunch-and-learn focusing on how exercise can act as medicine for dozens of diseases and conditions.
“I was surprised to learn about the direct correlation between the endocrine system and exercise. Working in a high-stress field, I realize I should make exercise a higher priority in my life,” said Michelle Foote.

“Everyone should start or renew an exercise program now as an investment in life-long health,” said Robert E. Sallis, M.D., FACSM, chair of Exercise is Medicine. “Every person, regardless of age or health, is responsible for his or her own physical activity. There are far more reasons to exercise than excuses not to.”

Recent research indicates that up to half of the effects of aging are not due to aging at all, but rather a direct result of changing lifestyle and activity habits as we age.

“Your body will adapt to whatever you’re doing, whether it’s high level activity or sitting in your recliner.  If you’re not challenging your bones and muscles, you’re going to lose them,” stated McCorkle.

For a minimal fee, a full fitness assessment is given to new members at the Wellness Connection, measuring weight, body fat, heart rate, blood pressure, flexibility, muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. In addition, a blood chemistry test profiles cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, LDL and HDL levels. Upon completion of the fitness evaluation, members receive a computerized profile and individual consultation to assist in the development of a fitness program to meet their needs. All members receive this personal attention, as well as orientation to the facility and equipment upon joining.

“Everyone has been very helpful at the Wellness Connection.  There are so many resources available that we have access to, as well as the knowledge of medical professionals at the hospital.  You just can’t get that at any other gym,” said Eric Foote.

“A healthy lifestyle with plenty of physical activity is more beneficial and has fewer negative side effects than almost any other medicine you can take,” said McCorkle.  “Everyone is searching for that magic pill to cure their disease and problems. We haven’t found that yet, but exercise is as close as we’ve come.”

For more information about the OCH Wellness Connection, call (662) 323-WELL (9355), or visit www.och.org.

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