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Health & Exercise Forum

Be Active, Be Well, Live Long!

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Jun 13, 2009

Dr. Paul MackareyRecently, while picking up my mail at the Dalton Post Office, I ran into Norm Brauer, town historian, author, friend and reader of my column. He said, “Hey Doc, I’ve been reading your column and want to know if you have any advise for old age?” I told him that he could probably give me advice about the merits of a healthy lifestyle and aging with dignity. Those who know Norm are well aware of his active lifestyle. Although he is well past the age most people retire, he keeps his body fit by walking several blocks to his office from his home every day. Furthermore, he benefits from life in a small town by walking to the town bank, post office, pharmacy, library, grocery store and deli. He keeps his mind active by reading, researching and writing articles and books on local history. He keeps his spirit healthy by sharing conversation with people who have known and respected him all his life.

However, Norm’s question is a good one. It raises many current issues. Is there a secret to a long and healthy life? Do genes control our destiny? How does lifestyle impact our health? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while genes play and important role, lifestyle plays the biggest role on how healthy you are and how long you live. The food you eat, what you drink, if you smoke, how active you are and how you handle stress are critical factors that determine your longevity. The NIH research has found that smoking, physical inactivity, and poor eating habits are the leading causes of death, in that order.

Physical activity is one of the most important factors in improving a lifestyle in a positive way. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days per week can greatly contribute to longevity.

Researchers have found that the benefits of regular physical activity are numerous. Some of the more important benefits are:

  • Loss or Maintained Body Weight
  • Reduces LDL /Raises HDL Cholesterol
  • Improves Circulation and Blood Pressure
  • Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
  • Prevents Bone Loss
  • Reduces Stress/Muscle Tension
  • Lowers Risk of Depression
  • Improves Sleep Pattern
  • Improves Strength and Flexibility
  • Improves Balance/Reduces Risk of Falls
  • Improves Immune System
  • Improves Pain Threshold

Some simple suggestions for beginning an exercise program are:

  • Get your physicians approval
  • Consult with a physical therapist to set up a program for your needs

Aerobic Exercise:

  • Buy good running sneakers – not walking shoes
  • Plan to exercise 3-5 times per week for 30-35 minutes
  • Walk for aerobic fitness
  • Begin 5-10 minutes and add 1-2 minutes each session
  • Walk in a mall if it is too hot or too cold

Weight Training:

  • Use light dumbbells, sandbag weights and resisted bands
  • Begin with 5-10 repetitions and add 1-2 reps each session
  • Alternate weight training days with walking days

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body. Keep moving, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and live long and well!

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an affiliated faculty member at the University of  Scranton, PT Dept.