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The Exercise Cure
By Anne Krueger
Visit Sally Dick, a naturopath and physician in Windber, Pennsylvania, and you’re more likely to get a prescription for exercise than one for a pill. She’s among a maverick group of physicians who not only are convinced that regular exercise may be the most important thing you can do for your health, but who make that belief a cornerstone of their practice.
“I tell all of my patients that without a lifestyle that includes exercise, nobody can truly be well,” says Dick, who is staff physician at Windber Medical Center’s integrative medicine department. She sits down with every single patient who comes to see her and, after diagnosing any particular problems, comes up with a lifestyle plan in which exercise is a major component. “I try to get a feel for what each patient is all about and how they can incorporate some form of exercise into their life,” she says. “Then I send them off with a plan and we reconnect in a week or two to see how it’s going.”
An exercise plan? Reconnect in a week or two? My own doc recently sent me off with a Lipitor prescription for my high cholesterol without even mentioning the word exercise. And the only time I will be reconnecting anytime soon is to see if the drug he prescribed is wreaking havoc with my liver.
My experience with mainstream medicine is not unusual in a country where 3 billion prescriptions were dispensed last year, up from 2 billion a decade ago. As Steven Findlay, a health policy analyst in Washington, says, “We love our medicines.” So much so, he says, that we use them as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. “Most of us don’t routinely eat wholesome foods, manage our weight, or stay active.” This, even though reams of studies have piled up to show that such choices can help prevent or treat most of the biggest causes of disease, disability, and death in this country.
Exercise, in fact, can stave off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, for starters, not to mention less dire but still troublesome conditions like arthritis, PMS, depression, and memory problems. When you exercise, everything works better: Your heart pumps faster and you breathe more rapidly, delivering oxygen-rich blood throughout your body and toning up your organs for optimum performance. Weight-bearing exercise not only builds muscle, it jump-starts metabolism, which can help keep weight and blood sugar in check. It can also stimulate bone growth and strengthen connective tissue, thus reducing the chances of osteoporosis.
“Exercise is, hands down, the single best thing you can do for your health,” says Sally Dick. If it’s so important, why aren’t more doctors pushing us to do it? After all, studies have shown that a nudge from someone in a white coat can make a big difference.
Unfortunately, most mainstream doctors are just as harried as the rest of us. “During any patient visit, most of us are really pressed just to address what the patient came in for,” says Rebecca Meriwether, a physician in the de...
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UST Executive Conference on the Future of Health Care
Dates: 11/5/2020 – 11/5/2020
University of St.Thomas Saint Paul
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Discover how you can play an active role in shaping the future by what you do within your organization and network with other health care leaders who are dealing with similar issues. The pace of change in health care has increased exponentially since our inaugural health care conference. And by the time the second annual conference convenes, Congress will have passed its bill for health care reform. We’ll have officially begun a new journey.Fortunately, visionary leaders have been helping to shape this next phase of health care. Investments in innovation and quality have led to some very effective – and often surprising – ways to cut costs, reduce errors, increase service and satisfaction, and improve access and outcomes. Bold initiatives such as these should be shared – especially during this transformative time, when we are all looking for fresh models of excellence. The University of St. Thomas and its partners invite you to participate in an inspiring day of learning, sharing and strategizing about how we can leverage innovation and quality to thrive in the new health care environment. Book Club:November 4, 2010Thursday, 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.Conference:November 5, 2010Friday, 8:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.Please visit the University of St. Thomas Executive Health Care Conference website for more information or copy and paste the following URL: http://ustfutureofhealthcare.com