in the United States has reached epidemic proportions, largely attributable
to lack of physical activity, fast food, and the popularity of television.
Unfortunately, many people who have the motivation to start becoming
physically active and eat healthy are flooded by a substantial amount of
information regarding dieting, exercise, and nutritional supplementation.
These advertisements can be seen on all forms of media: television,
magazines, newspapers, the radio, and at shopping centers. Although much of
this information can be helpful to the aspiring fitness buff, much of it is
confusing, and often times misleading.
hopes to help establish general guidelines for fitness and nutrition using
simple, common sense techniques that are medically supported. We would like
to stress that mental health and physical fitness are not achieved by fad
diets, but by lifestyle changes. Furthermore, in most cases, these changes
should be gradual to ensure long-term efficacy and safety. So, if you are
just beginning a fitness regimen, remember to start slowly, find a support
group, and keep realistic goals. And, as always, please consult your
physician prior to commencing any workout routine or nutritional plan.
those of you who are still unsure about how physical activity and proper
nutrition could benefit you, please read on…
Kim A. Eagle, Clinical Director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular
Center notes: “We estimate that with effective preventative measures, 50% or
more of the cardiovascular events today could either be prevented or at least
delayed by years. Maintaining physical fitness, attaining an ideal body
weight with a heart sensitive diet, taking the right medications, and
undergoing periodic screening for patients at risk for cardiovascular
diseases all represent important goals for Michiganians.” (Contributed by
Marlon Shell, M2)
only does physical activity help delay the onset of cardiovascular disease,
but it also helps to sensitize peripheral tissues to insulin, thereby
preventing (or even attenuating) the effects of Type II (Non-Insulin
Dependent) Diabetes Mellitus1,2. In fact, individuals who make physical
activity a regular part of their lives typically have a 20-30% greater rate
of insulin-stimulated glucose disposal than sedentary individuals3.
individuals who work under high-stress conditions, exercise provides the
perfect outlet for stress relief. Furthermore, physical activity can even
people by maintaining and strengthening their brain. Some studies have shown
that exercise increases the transcription of hippocampal Brain-Derived
Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a substance that plays a role in maintaining
cerebral synapses (the interconnectivity of brain cells). BDNF has also been
shown to play a role in the treatment of depression. Interestingly, exercise
and anti-depressant medications have a similar effect on BDNF expression,
indicating that exercise has many psychological benefits as well4.
to the American Council on Exericise (www.acefitness.org), individuals who
exercise regularly are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight,
maintain lean muscle, have higher levels of self-esteem and self-confidence,
continue to perform activities of daily living as they grow older, and are
less likely to develop a slew of diseases related to obesity and sedentary
now that the benefits of exercise are a bit clearer, it’s time to decide how
to start. It’s essential to start slowly to prevent injury. Furthermore, it’s
important to set goals and keep them in mind during your exercise regimen. As
far as time commitment, many health specialists recommend that most adults
participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity at least four
days per week.
For more details on exercising and nutrition, please visit the University of Michigan Health System website (www.med.umich.edu). The MedFitness website will be up and running soon to provide you with more details on physical fitness, mental well-being, and nutrition. Although this issue is primarily concerned with the fundamentals of fitness and nutrition, future issues will provide additional information on establishing a successful exercise routine and making the right choices when it comes to food. We hope to address issues pertinent to Complementary and Alternative Medicine as well, so keep your eyes open. Please feel free to e-mail us with any comments or questions, and best of luck with your workouts!
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