Exercise: The Prescription to Better Health

If you read my blog regularly, you know exercise is one of the key building blocks to optimizing your health. You're probably also familiar with my philosphy that exercise should be viewed as a drug that needs to be prescribed precisely. That's what attracted me to this interesting story about a medical center that integrates exercise, specifically hiking, into their prescription to treat obesity.

This fairly new program -- a partnership between doctors and hikers in New Hampshire -- involves physicians writing detailed prescriptions to patients -- in the form of trail maps -- for getting fit. For example, instead of a general reminder to get more exercise, doctors will prescribe "Walk this trail near your house twice a day."

It certainly made the difference for an overweight 72-year-old woman who was prescribed an exercise plan late last year. Before those orders, the woman exercised very little which exascerbated her health problems. Although winter's chill has prevented her from hiking, the doctor's order prompted her to use a treadmill, leading to a 12-pound weight loss.

Experts say personalization is the key to prescribing exercise. Specifically, the more concrete a doctor's advice, the more likely a patient is to heed it, according to various studies.

In my practice, I've found to achieve the incredible benefits exercise has to offer, your efforts must provide a significant cardiovascular stress to induce biochemical changes like increasing mitochondria in the muscle to burn fat while you're sleeping. I recommend working out hard enough so you have a difficult time talking or carrying on a conversation with someone.

I've devoted many pages on my Web site to the wonderful benefits exercise will do for your health. If you need some direction to get started, I urge you to review my beginner's exercise page that includes links to other pages and a free table you can download to keep track of your progress.

Yahoo News February 7, 2005

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