Hate to Exercise? Tell Your Physician

Sharing positive and negative experiences can help your physician prescribe the right fitness plan

It is not a magic pill, but the next prescription from your physician could help control your weight, prevent chronic disease, and improve your overall mood. Yet, it is one of the first items cut from to-do lists whenever life gets too busy: exercise.

“Many people think they cannot maintain a regular exercise program because it takes too much time or they have physical limitations like not being flexible or having chronic pain,” says Natalie A. Nevins, DO, an AOA board-certified family physician, who discussed ways people can integrate exercise into their healthcare during the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA)OMED 2013, the Osteopathic Medical Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.

Managing weight is not the only reason to exercise. People who work in sedentary jobs for 10 or more years are more likely to develop heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. To reduce one’s risk factor for multiple health problems, Dr. Nevins encourages people to adopt healthier routines.

“Exercising does not necessarily mean joining a gym,” explains Dr. Nevins. “From creative classes like belly dancing to low-cost exercises like walking, there are a variety of activities that can get people moving. Like I tell my patients, the types of exercise are only limited by your imagination. Be creative!”

How to Find the Right Exercise Program
Dr. Nevins recommends people talk to their physician before beginning a new exercise program and to share any concerns they have about exercising at that time. Physicians can even help patients choose the right type of exercise by:

  •   *Identifying and understanding a person’s barriers to exercise.
  •   *Assessing the level of willingness to start or modify an exercise program.
  •   *Discussing a person’s previous experiences (both positive and negative) with exercise.
  •   *Exploring different types of fitness programs to find a good fit based on a person’s current level of health and fitness. 

Keeping Motivated
Dr. Nevins recognizes that staying motivated is a big challenge for many people, even if they have the right intentions about exercise. She recommends the following tools to stay motivated:

  •   *Find the best time of day to exercise. Someone who is not a morning person is going to have trouble making a 6 a.m. Pilates class, but they might have a better chance of working out at night.
  •   *Be a role model for others. If parents want their children to be healthy, they need to lead by example.
  •   *Find someone to exercise with in order to be held accountable.
  •   *Schedule exercise into the day like one would a meeting or class.

“Everyone knows they should exercise,” says Dr. Nevins. “Exercise bridges the gap between physicians’ medical treatment and people’s role in their health care. By working with your physician, you can develop a plan to make that goal a reality.”