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Health & Exercise Forum

Exercise is Free Medicine

Nov 5, 2012

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumIn November our nation celebrates two nostalgic days of remembrance; the birthday of the United States Marine Corps (November 10th) and Veterans Day (November 11th).  Both are designated to remind Americans of the selfless sacrifice that millions of courageous men and women gave of their ‘today’s’ so we could have our ‘tomorrows’.  They purchased our freedom at a great price - a freedom giving us the opportunity to attend any desired school or church, to speak and marry freely, to choose our own health care, and seemingly limitless other opportunities.  However, the alarming irony is that for a nation with so much, we have an epidemic of insufficient personal fitness and health care.  Unfortunately, the problem lies in the simple fact that people usually don’t value their health until they lose it.  This being so, my challenge to you is to look at how your own health status is impacting your quality of life.  For many of us, our sedentary lifestyle is the cause of this epidemic that affects every aspect of our life.  My bottom line advice - take full advantage of the free medicine called exercise and you will significantly improve your overall health and wellness.

Since the mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and intellectual aspects of our lives comprise our total health and wellness, it is imperative that we pay close attention to these areas.   Because of lengthy periods of health and wellness neglect, many people struggle with health risks and a myriad of other problems- problems that could have been avoided if simple health care principles were followed.  Exercise, then, is the remedy that will greatly enhance our life.

Exercise comes with many misconceptions. Popular ones include: exercise is never fun, ‘quantity over quality,’ ‘no pain no gain,’ ‘lifting makes you bulky’, or thinking one must work out/exercise for 1-2 hours a day to make a difference.   To maintain a health fitness level, any misconceptions must be put aside and replaced with basic, common sense health advice.

Let us look at your heart!  The American Heart Association says that if an individual exercises 30 minutes, 5 days a week, or splits up exercise into 10-15 minute increments 2-3 times per day, he/she will significantly reduce the risk of heart disease (which has one of the highest death rates in the United States).

Heart disease is caused by many risk factors. These factors include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, and stress (excessive anger and hostility) age, gender (male are at higher risk until females reach menopause then risk is equal).The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that lack of adequate exercise is the most prevalent risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and that more than 60 % of adult Americans do not perform the American Heart Association’s minimum amount of physical activity.

Now resolve to make our nation’s remembrance days your personal days of pride as you start your free daily dose of exercise.  We have been given the freedom and opportunity to be pro-active in our own level of health and wellness. Make it happen! Your dedication and your example will be the best witness to adding life to your years.

10 Free Exercise Tips

Note:  If you have health complications and are starting a new exercise program or want to increase your activity, please consult your physician or physical therapist before starting.

  1. Walk up the stairs in your home a couple extra times a day.
  2. Park in the furthest parking spot when going to the mall.  Spend an extra 10 minutes walking parts of the mall to window shop.
  3. When doing laundry pick up the detergent and use as a weight for arm curls or squats (appx 8-10 pounds depending on the size).
  4. Play outside with your children or grandkids.
  5. Choose to walk around the home and clean or decorate instead of watching TV.
  6. Find a park bench, picnic table, or study chair at home and sit down and get up as many times as you can.
  7. Use a bath towel to stretch after you shower.  (A good time to stretch is when you are warm).
  8. If you enjoy athletics, competition, and supporting various charities, join your local Team in Training or look up on for a race or event coming up in a sport you prefer.
  9. Multi-task while getting ready for work in the morning- stand on one foot while brushing your teeth or perform squats while blow drying your hair.
  10. While talking on the phone and not in the car, lunge in place.

Start your daily dose of exercise today! Make a plan, write it down and have FUN on the journey to reaching your goals.

Guest Columnist: Theresa E Hornick, DPT, winner of the 2011 Dr. Paul J. Mackarey Health Care Journalism Award while a graduate student at The University of St. Augustine and is a Former Marine Corps Officer, Combat Veteran OIF III.

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum" in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

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 in Scranton, PA and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.