Exercise key to keeping both mind and body fit
Jessica Brewer, LMH Health
“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” – Robert Butler, National Institute on Aging
Maribeth Orr, DO
Maribeth Orr, a family practice physician at Eudora Family Care, said this is one of her favorite quotes. What many medications can help with, exercise can help with too.
“One of the best things about exercise is anyone can do it,” Dr. Orr said. “Even those who may not think they have the physical capabilities or the time to exercise can do it. It can be so impactful on many positive levels. It can help you mentally, physically, socially, economically and spiritually. Exercise leads to healthy minds and bodies.”
Orr said with so many things consuming us, especially during the pandemic, things can cultivate and become very negative. It is important now more than ever to take care of yourself. A good outlet can often be exercising. This provides you a time to be outdoors or alone on a treadmill, doing a workout routine or lifting weights. Exercise gets your endorphins going and gives you the sense that things will be ok.
“Especially in 2020, life keeps throwing us curveballs and exercise can help manage these,” Dr. Orr said. “The curveballs will keep coming even post-pandemic and exercise can help us continue to manage these. I hope a silver lining is that we will have eye-opening experiences across the world. I hope people see how important your health is and how precious life is. You are only given one body, one heart, one spine. Take care of these one-time gifts.”
Our bodies are precious, and some invest more in their cars and homes than they do their health. Dr. Orr said the human body deserves the same loving care that so many give to other things. We need to keep it in tip-top shape for it to continue operating properly.
“On a personal level, exercise has provided stress relief,” she said. “When I have my heart rate up, my worries, anger, sadness, anxieties and emotions that can so easily take us in a bad direction are controllable. It is how I care for my body. When I feel I need to be in control, exercise helps me lay that down and realize it is ok not to be in control.”
One major common misconception Dr. Orr said there is about exercise is a myth that the standard for exercising is you have to sweat a lot, get your heart rate going like crazy until you almost pass out and you have to hit a high-intensity level each time you work out. However, these are immensely inaccurate. She said exercise and movement can be from a chair, a hospital bed, anything from lifting small weights to shoulder shrugs and low-intensity levels. There is no one-size-fits-all workout.
“I remember when I first began running all I wanted to do was jog one lap,” she said. “It was hard and exhausting, but when I got it, I celebrated it. I said ok now two laps. Someone asked me if I would run a 5K and I thought they were nuts! That is 3.1 miles, no way. As I grew and worked and strived to achieve my goals, I got better day by day.”
Orr is a three-time Ironman finisher and continues to build up and inspire women to work towards their goals, to celebrate the small wins and never give up. She says that exercise is personal and each person has to find what they enjoy. While Dr. Orr is an accomplished athlete, it took her time to figure out what exercise worked best for her.
“Be true to yourself,” she said. “If you do not enjoy it, it is not a good idea. Don’t by a treadmill because you feel the only way to move is if you run. Invest in yourself and find what you love to do, find a group or a buddy who likes the same thing and do it with them. Encourage each other. You can do this. When working out gets hard and exhausting and there are many things you could complain about, just remember how much of a privilege it is that you can move like that. Whether that is running, biking, swimming, lifting, how amazing that you can move!”
One group Dr. Orr mentioned, in particular, were moms and caregivers. She often sees moms, caregivers and women who spend so much time giving to others that there is little time to give to themselves.
“Being a mom, I know, is the toughest job in the world, much harder than being a doctor,” Dr. Orr said. “You care for others so much and must make sure not to lose yourself in that. Find time to give back to yourself and sometimes the best way to do this is through exercise.”
She said as stress builds through the day from taking care of children, especially now when they may be home with you much more often, you want to make sure you are the best for yourself and your family.
“As a mom, there are so many demands,” Dr. Orr said. “Find yourself through movement. Don't forget who you are and that you have to give back to yourself and exercise is the best way to do this. Exercise can energize you and protect your cardiovascular system which in return helps you keep up with kids, keep your cool and it provides a wonderful outlet.
What she hears most is that women cannot get out because they have to stay home to take care of their children and babies. Dr. Orr’s best advice, take them with you! Carve our 10-20 minutes for yourself and if you can’t go alone, have your kids join either in a stroller or walking with you. Not only are you taking time for you, but setting a great example for them as well.
“The harder a goal is to achieve, the sweeter the reward when you’ve reached it,” she said. “You can do this. And remember, I wish I wouldn’t have exercised…said no one ever!”
Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.
The body was made to move and it’s important to know how much movement is right for you. Too little? Too much? The American College of Sports Medicine says Americans should follow one of these three guidelines to see substantial health benefits:
- Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate-intensity exercise,
- Or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity,
- Or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week. For more information about these guidelines, as well as those for children and adults in special populations such as pregnant women, visit cdc.gov/physicalactivity.