The Healthiest Thing You Can Do For Yourself

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An overweight patient of mine who is frustrated that exercising isn’t helping her lose enough weight told me that she plans to stop exercising and just keep dieting. Can you relate? I know that slow weight loss can be disheartening. But, if there is one change you make in 2013, please have it be to start exercising every day.

We humans were never meant to live the sedentary lifestyle we do. Our prehistoric ancestors had to hunt and forage to survive. We order take-out from the comfort of our couches and have it delivered. And our bodies don’t like it. That’s part of the reason why 1 in 3 Americans is obese.

Here’s the truth about weight loss: Diets alone can help you lose weight. But a combination of diet and exercise will help you become healthier in many ways and live a happier, longer life.

The best part is that even if you’re older or overweight, exercise still has clear health benefits. An August 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that people who were most fit in midlife were at a reduced risk for developing chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s longer. Why? Researchers believe that regular exercise leads to strong cardiovascular health and improved cellular function.

And if reducing your risk for diabetes and Alzheimer’s isn’t enough, a November 2012 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that regular exercise can literally add years to your life — anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5 years — even if you’re obese. Indeed, they found that obese people who exercised were healthier than their thinner couch potato counterparts. That’s because exercise, even without weight loss, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Physically fit people also suffer fewer side effects from illness.

By the end of our appointment, I felt like I had convinced my patient to not give up on exercise, despite her slow weight loss. I also shared with her some other surprising health benefits of exercise such as a reduced risk for skin cancer, which she was happy to learn about. I also hope that by the end of this post, I’ve inspired you to exercise for your overall health. If not, I’ll keep working at it because you’re worth it.

Photo credit: FCC, ozanhatipoglu

18 thoughts on “The Healthiest Thing You Can Do For Yourself

  1. A sedentary lifestyle is terrible for the body. Humans are indeed meant to move. Our bones and muscles stay stronger with consistent exercise plus we have more energy. Great post.

    • Thanks, Janessa. I agree. That’s why I try to go to the gym or run most days even when I don’t feel like it. I always have more energy after exercising than I did before. Stay healthy!-JB

  2. A was a very active youngster with a healthy BMI and great reflexes. But after marriage and giving birth to 2 kids, I found staying at home all day made me a bit lazy. I started gaining weight since and felt so tired all the time.

    I’ve tried running recently and going to the gym once a week (when hubby is at home to watch the kids ;D ) I feel that I’m slowly gaining the energy that I used to have and find that I can be active even when I’m at home. I’m never gonna be a lazy gal again. I miss having a skip in my step. Don’t do diet pills or any of those atrocious fad diets. I just exercise more often and watch when and what I eat.

    Thumbs up to your post Doctor. Hope more people realize there’s a need to stay healthy all the time.

  3. I spend so much time on the computer I actually build a treadmill desk so I can walk and work. Walking at about 2.5mph you are still able to work. I completely agree, getting up and being active helps mentally and physically!

    Great article, thanks Dr. B

  4. Excellent post, I agree that diet and exercise play a large part in your skins health. As an acne sufferer I found the diet very easy to follow but exercising became a problem as it made some parts very sore, until I saw a post recommending wearing natural fabrics and make sure they are loose fitting. This has helped, hope it helps others

  5. There are a lot of reasons why people should exercise. Do not focus on losing weight alone. It is truly better to combine exercise and diet because the effects of both in your health would be more than a slim physique. You will have more energy to enjoy life if you try to change and improve your lifestyle.

  6. Yes, it really can be demotivating when your weight control efforts don’t give you the results you expected… So, keeping the above in mind will help you to keep at it and to reap all of the benefits: not only a slimmer you, but a HEALTHIER you! ;)

  7. For me regular exercise did help to lose some weigth but changing my dietary habits helped to speed up the process. It definitely takes some time to get used to this new lifestyle, but worth it.

  8. It’s not just the exercise that helps but being outside and exercising is fantastic for our mental health too. Just five minutes in a green space doing some form of activity can improve mood and reduce depression (not sure if I can post a link here – the report is on the BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8654350.stm). So we can help our bodies and our minds by keeping active.

  9. I’ve recently combined diet, exercise, and detoxing to my healthy lifestyle regimen. I completed a 3 week detox, and in addition to losing some stubborn pounds, I felt GREAT! I have more energy now than I have in many years, and I attribute that to combining these 3 facets of a healthy life.

  10. Agree with Beth. Sometimes we focus too much on weight while the real focus when exercising should be feeling better, getting higher energy levels, and even enjoying the process of exercising itself. Once we shift our focus and stop obsessing over quick results in terms of weight loss, things become much easier.

  11. I have been exercising regularly for over 20 years and I can say without a doubt that I just don’t feel as good when I have to stop for any prolonged length of time for whatever reason. Not only do I begin to gain a little weight but I tend to feel lethargic and achy. For me it became a lifestyle a long time ago which is what I think people have to try to obtain from it. The weight loss will always come in time if you eat right too.

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