Celebrate Men's Health Month with movement
You may have heard it before, but exercise is medicine! It is never too late to start becoming active and this Men’s Health Month we are talking all about the importance and ways to stay active at any age.
Ben Smith, D.O., a physician with the Internal Medicine Group, said doing any activity at any age is better than nothing. This can include standing instead of sitting or just simply getting up to move your body. What you may think of as movement does not always have to mean intense exercise.
Where to begin
“For many patients, they don’t know where to start and that is ok. Lawrence is filled with resources and tools that can help you begin slowly,” Dr. Smith said. “I will have patients come and ask me what a good plan is and how to start and that is something I can help them develop. Of course, if you are looking to develop a more intense training regimen you may need to seek out a coach/personal trainer and/or dietician.”
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular activity can:
- Reduce your risk of falling or having a fall-related injury
- Help you stay independent
- Keep your brain healthy by reducing your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s and helps improve your thinking
- Lower your risk of developing new chronic health problems and reduce the risk of getting worse
- Decrease your risk of getting several types of cancer and helps prevent them from coming back
Dr. Smith said an ideal target number to reach is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. This number can be reached in many different ways and does not always have to be walking, biking, dancing or running. It can also consist of things you may not think of as conventional exercise.
“Every minute counts. Just moving your body and becoming active means something. This can be active yard work or completing a task around the house,” he said. “General movement, even if you don’t enjoy exercise specifically, can be huge and will help you live a better quality of life in the long run.”
Dr. Ben Smith
Movement and exercise can of course also be things you enjoy doing like pick-up basketball, swimming, pickleball, baseball and so much more. Dr. Smith grew up playing sports and specifically remembers playing football and enjoying the hours of practices and weight training. He decided to set some weight training goals himself, and from 2015 to 2018, he competed in numerous powerlifting competitions, including some at the national level like United States Association of Powerlifting (USAPL), as well as the Arnold Sports Expo and Fitness Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
“At these competitions and in my practice as well, I have seen people of all ages, even those 80 years old and over who are competing in powerlifting,” he said. “There is no age limit to activity and it is never too late to start becoming active and reaching for your goals. We are here to help you start and make sure you safely become more and more active.”
Consistency is key
Luis Salazar, MD, a sports medicine physician with OrthoKansas, said activity is the prescription and foundation for health. However, if you are just getting started, it may literally be a bad idea to hit the ground running.
“We will often see patients who want to get started on consistent activity, and we first want to sit down and have the conversations on readiness. We see people who jump in right away and then come to us with injuries. That is exactly what we want to avoid,” Dr. Salazar said. “Talking about readiness – looking at barriers, conditions, functionality and medications - helps avoid the spiral effect of getting hurt, recovering and then staying inactive because each time you begin again you get hurt. Starting with small steps to build up to a higher intensity is key.”
Dr. Salazar shared that many times, injuries occur when the weather gets warmer. After spending a season primarily inside due to the cold, when it warms up and people become more active, injuries can come along with it.
“Especially with COVID, we saw people stop going to the gym or getting out and about as often. Then two years pass and they pick up where they left off and injuries present themselves,” he said. “With inactivity, it is common to have lost some strength and maybe gained some weight. It was a time like no other so this is very understandable, but coming back at a paced rate is important.”
According to Dr. Salazar, the beauty with exercise and movement is that there is always a way to supplement or add in a modification. Do you find running the worst? That’s ok, maybe swimming is more appealing. Don’t want to go on a walk? Maybe take today to refocus and do some yoga or stretching to just get your body moving.
“You don’t need another errand in life. We are all busy people, so finding something you enjoy is crucial,” he said. “If there is a medical concern, talk with one of the sports medicine professionals or your primary care provider. We can help devise a plan and set goals so you can enjoy your activity. If you are in love with running but suffered from a recent knee injury, we can discuss what the options are regarding your specific injury so you can get back to doing the activities you love sooner.”
Dr. Salazar emphasized that we want to reach either the goal of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity or a combination of the two. However, there is no fast reward for fitness and lifestyle modifications. It is unlikely you will see results after only one day. But over time, Dr. Salazar said you will start to see big gains.
“There is so much you can do to care for your body that can accompany the movement. Staying hydrated is important and, as cliché as it may sound, sleep is largely important as well,” he said. “Hydration alone can assist in avoiding soft tissue issues and make you feel better. Stretching before an activity is big to avoid long days of tightness/soreness and what you are feeding your body is another key to success.”
Dr. Luis Salazar
Most people cannot survive off of only five hours of sleep, Dr. Salazar said. Poor sleep can lead to illnesses, higher stress loads and increased heart rate, among other things, that can prevent you from reaching your goals. It’s ideal to get six to nine hours of sleep a day. On top of sleep, variability in your movement and exercise will help to break through and avoid plateaus in your fitness journey. The team at OrthoKansas is ready to help you reach your goals the way you want.
“Our goal is to provide advice and guidance in the most unbiased way possible. I am not here to tell you what to do but to walk alongside you and provide options for things you already enjoy doing,” Dr. Salazar said. “At the end of the day, we are all human and perspective is important. We are here to help find a plan that is safe, effective, fun and tailored to what works best for you. It is never too late to start investing in your health.”