"A Father’s Day Present—Exercise and Avoiding Injuries" by Allen Weiss, MD, MBA , President and CEO

Dr. ALlen Weiss, MD, MBA, FACP, FACR

June 1, 2008 - For Father's Day this year I'd like to share some tips on the value of exercise and the importance of avoiding exercise related injuries.

The benefits of regular exercise are abundant. If you exercise just two hours per week, you decrease your chances of a heart attack by 50%. Unfortunately, 75% of the U.S. population fails to meet even the minimum government recommendation for daily exercise: 30 minutes of walking in bouts as short as eight to ten minutes.

An interesting initial study took place in the late 1940s when a London researcher, Jeremy Morris, compared double-decker bus drivers to conductors. The conductors ran up and down stairs all day collecting fares while the driver sat at the wheel. The conductors had significantly lower rates of heart disease.

In a Harvard Alumni magazine in 2004, Jonathan Shaw teased readers with the following: “In the bottle before you is a pill, a marvel of modern medicine that will regulate gene transcription throughout your body, helping prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and 12 kinds of cancer—plus gallstones and diverticulitis. Expect the pill to improve your strength and balance as well as your blood lipid profile. Your bones will become stronger. You'll grow new capillaries in your heart, your skeletal muscles, and your brain, improving blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Your attention span will increase. If you have arthritis, your symptoms will improve. The pill will help you regulate your appetite and you'll probably find you prefer healthier foods. You'll feel better, younger even, and you will test younger according to a variety of physiological measures. Your blood volume will increase, & you'll burn fats better. Even your immune system will be stimulated.”

Obviously, the pill is exercise. Why don't we get in the habit of exercising? One reason may be the fear of injuries.
One of the best places to get your exercise in Collier County without being in the hot sun is at the NCH Wellness Centers. Click here for information about our two locations, hours of operation, and fitness classes offered. Take the first step to getting in better shape today!"

“We would all rather wear out than rust out,” is an expression I recall hearing years ago when I was in private practice. It came from a fit, active, happy older gentleman who was in my office for treatment of a tennis injury.

How do you avoid injuries? Being smart or prudent when beginning a program is important. If you have not exercised since high school, don't make the mistake of thinking you are still at your prime. Begin gradually, take plenty of warm-up time, set realistic goals and seriously consider the assistance of a trainer, at least initially. Or you can coach yourself easily, simply by noting your activities in a log and gradually increasing until you reach a comfortable, steady state.

Doing different activities daily to use different muscle groups also helps avoid injuries and, at the same time, reduces the likelihood of boredom. By mixing walking, swimming, light weight lifting, stretching, or any other activity such as group exercise, you will decrease your chances of getting injured, while being stimulated by variety.

After you exercise you should feel better than when you started. Sometimes the hardest part of exercise is putting on your sneakers or making time in a busy schedule. Those who exercise daily will share that they feel better and are more productive in their regular activities when they remain diligent.

Cool down, relax, and be proud that you are staying in shape. And remember, another benefit of exercising is that you can enjoy dining without worrying about gaining weight.

This Father's Day, give yourself the present of good health by committing to an exercise program. Don't be like Mark Twain who facetiously stated “that every time I get the urge to exercise I lie down and the urge usually passes.” Have a Happy Father's Day.

Dr. Allen Weiss is CEO & President of the NCH Healthcare System. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Geriatrics, and was in private practice in Naples, Florida from 1977 - 2000. Dr. Weiss is active in a variety of professional organizations and boards, and has been published in numerous medical journals, including the American Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.