Published: Oct. 1, 2010
Updated: Oct. 1, 2010
By Bess White, NP
If your doctor were to give you a prescription for exercise, it might actually be one of the most important prescriptions you could ever get.
Regular aerobic exercise -- walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or using an aerobic exercise machine like a treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bicycle, etc. -- is one of the best things you can do for your health.
It can help prevent heart attack, stroke, diabetes, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you choose a weight bearing exercise such as walking or jogging, it will also help prevent osteoporosis.
Regular exercise can also give you more energy for all the other things that you do in your life.
If you would like to get the benefits of aerobic exercise, talk to your health care provider and then consider following the plan outlined below.
You will experience some benefits of regular exercise no matter how much or little you do. However, for some reason we don’t fully understand, the benefits of exercise really sky rocket once you get to a minimum of thirty minutes of continuous activity five days per week.
Thus, when I’m counseling patients who would like to start an exercise plan, I recommend that they set a goal of 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week. The key to success is to start with an easy amount of exercise and very gradually progress the amount that you do.
Here is a plan that will help get you there. It’s important to follow the plan –- don’t jump ahead weeks. Be sure to start slow and work up gradually -- this makes it easier to do the exercise and easier to fit it into your schedule.
You are more likely to be successful and you will be more likely to stick with it if you are successful.
Here are some additional tips that can help you establish the “habit” of exercise:
-- Bess White is a nurse practitioner at Duke Primary Care Mebane.