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No more lame excuses — get some exercise

I hear rumblings of a new movement emerging within the fitness industry.

Leaders in the industry, who recently met at the annual Summit for a Healthier America in Washington D.C., are pushing to make regular exercise and primary prevention the twin pillars of our nation’s evolving healthcare system.

That idea was enthusiastically discussed, uniformly endorsed and energetically promoted.

Having worked in this industry for the last 24 years, I can appreciate the many physical and economic benefits that regular exercise imparts. I can also recognize and appreciate the manifold opportunities inherent in health promotion efforts. I have been promoting the awareness of the benefits of exercise for a long time. It is little wonder that backsliding recreation center members try to avoid me. Consequently, I’ve had to listen to lengthy explanations offered in response to polite comments, such as, “I haven’t seen you in a while,” made in passing by the broccoli bin.

Do I make people feel a wee bit guilty if they have not been exercising? Or if they haven’t been to the recreation center?

I hope not.

Individual responsibility is the first step in the pursuit of a regular exercise program. The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” holds true in this situation as well.

One of the recreation center members, Rex Vaughn, shared this story with me and, with his permission, I’m passing it on.

In 2008, 65-year-old Rex was wearing size 48 blue jeans, weighed 250 lbs., and was diagnosed with diabetes and myriad other conditions. Rex was “at a dead end.” Today, he is a healthy 180 lbs., has controlled his diabetes, eliminated the need for many medications and “feels great.”

He reports, “I was on my way to an early grave,” when his physician referred him to the Jackisch Drug diabetes program. There he met fourth-year pharmacy student Julie Bohm, who quickly determined that a change was in order. After listening to Rex, she called his physician and requested he write Rex a prescription for an exercise program to lose weight.

Julie said, “Rex, there is an exercise prescription at your doctor’s office. If you would pick it up, it will be there waiting. I encourage you to do it.”

That call was the impetus Rex needed. From that point on, he followed a recommended diet, started an exercise program and learned more about diabetes and how to control his blood sugar.

Dropping 70 lbs. and transforming himself had other positive outcomes for Rex. These included lowering his blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as reducing pain and sleep issues —? all influencing his doctor to discontinue some of his medications.

Today, Rex is still very committed to a regular exercise program.

Several of the instructors at the recreation center, who are also employees at Pagosa Mountain Hospital, have had great success in helping people to lose weight. They continue to offer phenomenal wellness programs to help many achieve weight loss and adopt good exercise and food habits. Check with the hospital or come by the recreation center to talk with Kelly, Jessica or Angela.

One of the most common excuses I hear for not exercising is the lack of time. Though many people cite excessive “busyness” as the reason for forgoing visits to the gym or even getting out for a bike ride or a walk, new research demonstrates that even short periods of exercise contribute to one’s physical well being. If you have made up your mind not to exercise regularly, you’ll have to come up with a different excuse.

Working at the University of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, Dr. Mark Tully and his colleagues conducted a 12-week study involving 106 healthy, but sedentary, adults ages 40-61 to determine whether less is as good as more when it comes to activity.

Some participants walked 30 minutes three times a week, while others followed the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clocking 30 minutes per day for five days out of each week. Both groups recorded marked improvements in their blood pressure, as well as significant decreases in their waist and hip measurements.

Even most heart problems are no longer an acceptable reason to avoid activity. A four-month study of 37 heart failure patients, led by Dr. Robert Hollriegel at German’s Leipzig University, found that those who cycled for 30 minutes a day not only developed new stem cells in their bones — a feat that no drug can duplicate — but also had a greater number of small blood vessels in their muscles, increasing oxygenation.

Dr. John Cleland, a heart failure specialist at the University of Hull in Britain, and a spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology, says he hopes this information will “prevent people from getting into a cycle of deterioration when they’re afraid to exercise and they avoid activity that leaves them out of breath.”

I also hope it will prevent me from having to listen to more lame excuses in the aisles of the supermarket.

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