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Exercise and Preventative Medicine


What you need to know

As a primary care physician, I like to take a proactive approach to keeping my patients healthy, now and in the future. Part of the way to doing this is discussing and planning regular exercise routines and programs.

It is well accepted that exercise is good for your health, but exactly how does exercise play a role in preventative medicine?

Largely, we talk about exercise as being important in preventing and correcting cardiovascular disease. A few of the main contributors to cardiovascular disease are abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and chronic inflammation. Uncontrolled and poorly managed risk factors like these can lead to faster development and earlier presentation of heart attacks and strokes.

So, how does exercise keep you healthy? Well, scientifically, exercise has been shown to improve your overall cholesterol profile, reduce blood pressure, decrease chronic inflammation, control your weight and prevent/treat Type 2 Diabetes. Scheduling and executing ng a well-rounded exercise plan can safely and effectively reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease now, and in the future.

Examples of moderate physical activity
  • Regular physical activity reduces the risk of the following:
  • Dying Prematurely
  • Dying from heart disease
  • Risk of Stroke
  • Risk of developing high blood pressure
  • Risk of developing colon cancer
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Helps control weight
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  • Promotes psychological wellbeing
  • Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move without falling

Let’s look at a few specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease and see how exercise helps reduce your risk.


  1. Cholesterol – regular exercise can reduce the free fats in your blood stream (triglycerides) as well as raise your HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Higher HDL levels play an important role in your overall risk of developing heart disease and atherosclerosis throughout your body. Want to improve your cholesterol panel at your next checkup without medica
  2. Blood Pressure – walking as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week can lower your blood pressure from 5-15mmHg in pa
  3. Type 2 Diabetes – glucose (sugar) control and regulation through your body is largely dependent on your body’s response to insulin. Regular exercise can increase your body’s insulin sensitivity allowing your body to better control and regulate sugar levels. If you have diabetes already, or perhaps you have been told you are “borderline diabetic”, exercise is a safe and easy way to improve your sugars without medication.
  4. Obesity – exercise and an active lifestyle has been shown to control weight gain, preventing you from adding on more pounds and even helping to lose a few. Regular exercise and physical activity is crucial in controlling and maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise, particularly resistance training, can promote and increase muscle mass, which will help keep your bones strong and give you energy throughout the day. Getting to the gym regularly is great, but if you don’t have time, find activities during the day to stay active (take the stairs, take walks during your work breaks, or even perform lunges or squats while brushing your teeth). Any extra activity you can do through your day will help you burn more calories and move towards a healthy weight.
  5. Inflammation – chronic inflammation can lead to the buildup of plaques and blockages in your arteries, resulting in heart disease and even stroke. Regular exercise can reduce this inflammation and limit the chances of developing cardiovascular disease at the cellular level.

Aside from cardiovascular protection, exercise can greatly improve your energy and mood. Having extra energy can allow you to accomplish your daily work and personal goals with vigor. Feeling restless or irritable at work? Try sneaking in a quick walk around your office to improve your mood. Feeling sluggish or tired at the end of the day, with no motivation to complete regular house hold chores or duties at home? Make a stop at the gym or the park for some physical activity to boost your energy and give you the motivation to finish your day. Regular exercise can not only give you the extra energy you need to get through your day, but can also help you rest easier at night and go to sleep faster.

How much exercise do you need?

The American Heart Association, The American Diabetes Association, and The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes (2 and ½ hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. That’s as little as walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week. That’s it! Many studies show marked reduction in all-cause mortality with as little as 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week (the weekend warriors). With exercise, more is often better – to a certain point. When studied, there is very little benefit for greater than 100 minutes per day of moderately intense exercise.

The benefits of regular exercise cannot be understated. If you are looking for a safe, natural way to stay healthy and prevent disease; talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program that is right for you.

Examples of moderate physical activity
  • Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
  • Playing volleyball for 45minutes
  • Playing touch football for 30-45minutes
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes
  • Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30-40 minutes
  • Walking 1 3/4 miles in 35 minutes (20 min/mile)
  • Basketball (shooting baskets) for 30 minutes
  • Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
  • Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1.5miles in 30 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15min/mile)
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes
  • Basketball (playing a game) for 15-20 minutes
  • Bicycling 4 miles in 15minutes

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Healthy Corner Recipe

Heart Healthy Recipes
By Texas Beef Council & AHA

Beef Chili

Prep: 40 minutes, Cook 35 minutes

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (96% Lean)
  • 1 can (15-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) unsalted beef broth
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 ounces) canned green chilies or Jalapeno peppers
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.
  2. Add ground beef and cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 3/4 inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings
  3. Stir in beans, broth, tomatoes, green chilies and chili powder
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes to develop flavors, stirring occasionally
  6. Garnish with toppings, as desired

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