Movement is Medicine

“Use it or lose,” is far more than a pithy saying. It is a foundational truth that underlies health… as well as wealth and wisdom. We will focus on health in our conversation today.

The Mayo Clinic famously said that, “Sitting is the new smoking,” to stress the fact that being sedentary for long periods can be as bad for your health as smoking. While I do not feel this is 100% accurate, I think it makes a dramatic point… you must move to be healthy.

Exercise fads come and go and my job as a doctor of chiropractic and a Diplomate in Applied Kinesiology (the clinical application of the benefits of movement) is to filter through the “fluff” and make sure your exercise program is grounded in correct principles. These timeless principles of a healthy exercise program include: strength training, balance, reflexes, aerobic/endurance, and flexibility.

The foundation of your fitness should be that you make sure you walk briskly for 30 minutes five days a week. This alone will give you superior health. In fact, along the lines of the Mayo Clinic comment, studies have shown that 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week is as healthy for you as quitting smoking. That’s a big plus!

Basic principles of Movement is Medicine are these:

  1. Walk daily or at least five times a week in addition to any other aerobic exercise you like.
  2. Do strength developing exercises such as push-ups and deep knee bends (pull-ups if you can) anywhere from once to three times a week…depending on your fitness level.
  3. Do High Intensity Interval Training for about 10 minutes three times a week,
  4. Stretch at least three times a week.
  5. Perform deep breathing exercises and / or meditation daily.
  6. Perform speed, dexterity and/or balance exercises like ping pong, plyometrics or balance board work. NOTE: Some neurologists and psychiatrists feel that ping pong is the “world’s best brain sport.”  I have used muscle testing to substantiate this claim.

Movement is not just medicine for your body but also for your mood. A study performed at George Mason University found that, “On a given day students who exercised also tended to participate in more social and achievement activities than on days they did not exercise.”  The study’s lead author believes exercise may help people with depression. You can read the article here: In Case You Needed Even More Reason to Exercise…

This study validates the fact that if you start doing even little healthy things, you will start doing more healthy and bigger things. In my 30 years in practice I have done my best to teach patients that, “Health is what you do for your body MINUS what you do to your body.” The best way to stay healthy is to have more positives to push out the negatives. In other words, you can get rid of a negative habit by implementing a positive one.

For instance, a patient asked me to try to convince her husband to stop smoking. I replied, “If the picture of a slow horrible death doesn’t motivate him to quit smoking, then there is nothing I can say that will convince him.” However, what we did instead was to get Henry started on an exercise program (this actually helped to lay the groundwork for the Power Kinetics® Program) where he could measure his progress weekly.

When Henry saw himself getting stronger, more flexible and having greater endurance – he kicked the habit all on his own because as he said, “I’m working my butt off and I’ll be dammed if I am going to put a butt in my mouth and undo all my hard work!” Perfectly said.

The life lesson (literally a life-saving lesson) is don’t just try to stop a bad habit; start healthy ones and crowd out the unhealthy ones. Health starts with feeling good and feeling good starts with movement combined with an optimistic attitude. Read the best story you may ever hear about having an optimistic attitude here: Optimistic Attitude and Your Health

You can always find a good EXCUSE not to exercise but you will never find a good REASON! Remember, “Movement IS Medicine.”

To your excellent health,

Dr. Eugene Charles

Applied Kinesiology Center of New York  

Charles Seminars

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