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Exercise Isn’t Optional; It’s Mandatory for Good Health

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Exercise Isn’t Optional; it’s Mandatory for Good Health
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Published: May 10, 2013
Updated: May 10, 2013
Some people speak of a “runner’s high”—an intoxicating feeling derived from going the distance and pushing your limits. And then there are those for whom exercise is a chore, an item to be checked off a to-do list.
Matthew Hayes, DO, of Duke Primary Care Waverly Place believes everyone can—and must—exercise, and that there’s some kind of exercise out there for everybody and everybody. He takes exercise so seriously that he gives each of his patients a prescription for it. “I prescribe specific ways to exercise— running, lifting, tennis, and more— based on what my patients like to do,” he says. “I make recommendations on frequency and duration of exercise based on the patient’s current fitness level. I then discuss intensity using target heart rate or how much exertion you feel. It can get fairly scientific in a high-level someone just starting out.”
Hayes tells his patients that exercise is essential to good health and that making time for exercise has to be among the things you consider non-negotiable. You have to buy groceries. You have to pay bills. You also have to exercise—even if you have to trick yourself into doing it.
Sneaking exercise into the day is something anyone can do, Hayes says. “Take the stairs, park farther away than you need to, walk to lunch. Try 10 minutes of core exercise and pushups to start the day or a 15-minute walk over your lunch break. It adds up.”
If you have kids, get them into the game, too. “Encourage kids to play outside, like we did growing up,” Hayes says. “Limit their screen time to less than two hours a day, and set a good example by being active yourself.”
Hayes recommends you start somewhere. A little exercise is, after all, better than none. But he says the current recommendation from the medical community is to exercise four to five days each week for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.
The obvious exercise for the most committed couch potato is walking. “If you are not disabled, then you can walk for exercise,” Hayes says. Beginners could start with a 20-minute walk three days a week. The goal of each walk should be to break a sweat.
And just to drive the point home a little more, Hayes includes a quote from former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop on his prescriptions: “Exercise is the most effective medicine known to man.”
Get it any way you can.
You Multitask at Everything Else— Why Not Exercise?
• Do stretching exercises while you’re waiting for lunch to heat in the microwave.
• Lunge a little as you wheel your grocery cart down the aisle.
• Get up from your desk and walk a lap around the office, the building, or the block.
Dr. Matthew Hayes' Sneaky Ways to Put Exercise into Your Day
1. Walk to any destination that’s less than a quarter-mile away. It will take longer to drive and park, anyway.
2. Walk your dog 30 minutes a day or more. All dogs need structured exercise. (Humans do, too.)
3. Take the stairs if you’re going up one or two floors. Do you really want to be that person who takes the elevator up one floor?
4. Start your day with 10 minutes of core training or calisthenics, such as pushups or crunches. Or do a few minutes of a yoga DVD. You will have done more exercise before breakfast than most Americans do all day!
5. Join a gym that has child care. The kids can have fun while you work out.

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