What would you do if you were a doctor and your patient had the following conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, gallstones, joint damage or arthritis—and obesity? Because you as a physician know there’s a direct correlation between high body mass index (BMI) and comorbid conditions—including cancer—you write a prescription and give it to your patient, along with strong words of advice that have previously been ignored.
It’s now or never.
You tell your patient that the diagnosis is “lack of conditioning”: physical conditioning—your patient is physically inactive and the consequences are just too great. You wonder why someone would do this to themselves, because the ramifications affect not only the patient, but those who love him or her.
Now physiologist Michael Joyner, M. D., of the Mayo Clinic is out to shake things up, but I believe he’s on the right track. In a news release issued Aug. 13, he says: “Prolonged lack of exercise can cause the body to become deconditioned, with wide-ranging structural and metabolic changes: the heart rate may rise excessively during physical activity, bones and muscles atrophy, physical endurance wane, and blood volume decline.”
And he’s not just talking about the overweight—but anyone who’s immobile. That includes pregnant women on bedrest, or those who sit at their desks for too many hours each day.
Slowly you go
He suggests we approach this serious and pervasive problem with campaigns similar to those developed to combat drunken driving and smoking. Start treating physical inactivity as its own condition, rather than something caused by other conditions.
In his comments, Dr. Joyner says: “Even walking just 10 minutes three times a day can go a long way toward working up to the 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity the typical adult needs.”
The doctor told NPR that “he sees two types of patients in his clinic: the ones who follow health guidelines and keep active; and those whose don’t and see no connection between their behavior and their health outcomes.”
Don’t think you have to start running marathons, or join a gym and pump it up right away. Easy does it, and soon, it won’t be hard to realize the benefits. You can write your own prescription for conditioning, and you can do it now.
(Photo courtesy: © Jessie Eldora Robertson | Dreamstime.com)