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Health & Exercise Forum

Only smokers die earlier and at higher rates than couch potatoes!

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Oct 7, 2019
Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise Forum

A recent study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that only smokers died early at higher rates than couch potatoes! The study was the longest of its kind as researchers followed approximately 800 men for 50 years and concluded with this powerful message: poor physical fitness may be almost as bad for you as smoking…so make exercise a lifesaving priority.

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. Most experts agree that moderation is important. If you overindulge with exercise you will be at greater risk for musculoskeletal injuries. This is especially true for those who are newcomers. The goal is to gradually work into a fitness program and maintain it for life. 

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 physician's approval
  • Consult with a physical therapist to set up a program for your needs
    • 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
    • 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 associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.