I was just reading about the abnormally severe winter that folks in Europe are currently enduring. Last year at this time, my house was surrounded by six-foot snow piles and topics of conversation were about how to shovel snow off the roof.
At any rate, my exercise regiment had fallen by the way-side, with snow shoveling becoming my top aerobic activity.
This year, however, we’ve been having a heat wave. I see joggers outside everyday.
It’s this time of the year, the time when the weather seems to discourage physical activity, that I like to remind myself about the myriad of benefits that exercise brings.
Among the motivating evidence:
- In elderly men with poor physical function, increasing general physical activity may potentially confer a protective effect or delay the onset for dementia. (Taaffe DRet al., J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2008 and Ahlskog JE et al., Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2011)
- According to an NIH study, regular aerobic exercise can modify the brain environment in such a way that the neurons are protected and may help prevent brain damage from diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease. (Harry GJ et al., Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2011)
- Regular exercise increases mitochondrial numbers in brain cells, a potential cause for exercise’s beneficial mental effects. Mitochondria produce the power for our cells, and have a role in cell growth and death. (Steiner JL et al., American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, 2011)
I could keep on going, but you get the point.
Exercise is good for us, so no matter what the weather’s currently doing outside your window, we need to make sure our patients keep moving.
How do you keep your patients (or yourself) exercising when weather conditions are less than ideal? Please leave a comment below.