If you knew that there was one thing that would make you healthier as you age, would you do it? If your doctor told you that there was one prescription that could help prevent and treat several diseases, would you take it? There is, and it’s aerobic exercise. Exercise is Medicine (TM) is an initiative shared by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association designed to help improve the health and well-being of our nation through a regular physical activity prescription from doctors and other healthcare professionals.
But who wants to take medicine? What if it tastes really good, makes you look and feel younger and you wish you could take it forever? Well, it does and you can. It is infinitely refillable and you can vary the dosage. A study published in August 2008 by Dr. James Fries, MD at Stanford University confirmed his hypothesis that “. . . regular exercise would extend high-quality, disability-free life. Keeping the body moving, he speculated, wouldn’t necessarily extend longevity, but it would compress the period at the end of life when people couldn’t carry out daily tasks on their own.” The health benefits of exercise were greater than originally thought. The study found that in longtime runners initial disability occurred 16 years later than in the non-runners. There was also a lower incidence of cardiovascular deaths, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
This study happened to be on aging runners but that may not be your medicine of choice. You may like swimming or cycling, hiking or aerobic classes. As an aging runner myself, I have to admit that I didn’t like to run when I was in college back in the 1960’s. I began to like it in 1974 and I’m still doing it. I will be turning 60 in June. That’s me in the photo running on March 7th of this year in Champoeg State Park at an Oregon Road Runner’s Club 10K race. My husband, already 60, was somewhere ahead of me as he always is. It was the day after our 38th wedding anniversary. Neither of us was a runner when we got married as children in 1971! We started because we wanted to be fit to hike in the mountains, cross-country ski, hike up Mt. Fuji and Mauna Loa, and to take advantage of the many opportunities we were presented with as we traveled the world in the Navy.
I’ve slowed down. There’s a bit of Velveteen Rabbit in me. I jog less frequently and more slowly. Sometimes when I’m in a race I have to chuckle. Two weeks ago at the Shamrock Run in Portland, I passed several younger women but was quickly humbled when a man came up alongside me and we started talking before he ran on ahead of me. He was 77! As a cardiac rehabilitation nurse, that’s what I love to see! So take your medicine as prescribed. The label looks like this:
Dosage: At least 30-minutes
Frequency: 3-5 days per week
Method: Alone or with friends
Take with plenty of water. Have a good time! Live healthy. Sleep well . . .
Yours in Fitness,
Olivia C. Rossi, RN, MSN
Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, ACSM
Certified Personal Trainer, ACSM