Heal Thyself

By Lou – October 4, 2011

Austin Fit Magazine is all about health and fitness; this month, we really want to take a hard look at the medical side of the equation and the enormous role it plays in our lives.  To help us do this, we are fortunate to have as our cover and feature Dr. Karen Swenson, Seton Healthcare Family’s Chief of Staff, who shares her unique perspective on how we are doing and where we are going as old meets new in the quest for a healthy society.

I know I can be a broken record when it comes to how each of us can make a difference in our health, but the benefits of prevention are real and the medical profession supports this idea in spades.  Take, for example, an organization called “Exercise is Medicine,” a nonprofit initiative launched by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Medical Association (AMA), which encourages doctors to prescribe exercise for myriad conditions.  Their research demonstrates that certain health issues are treated more effectively with exercise than drugs.  “Exercise is Medicine” has research which shows that “… a low level of physical activity exposes a patient to a greater risk of dying than does smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol, and for older men, regular physical activity can decrease the risk of death by 40%.”

According to a DVD produced by “Exercise is Medicine,” regular physical activity can:

  • Make you live longer (for example: active individuals in their 80s have a lower risk of death than inactive individuals in their 60s).
  • Reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%.
  • Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.
  • Reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40%.
  • Reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%.
  • Lower the risk of stroke by 27%.
  • Lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%.
  • Be twice as effective in treating type II diabetes than the standard insulin prescription and can save $2,250 per person per year when compared to the cost of standard drug treatment.
  • Decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.
  • Improve muscle strength, which lowers mortality (adults with better muscle strength have a 20% lower risk of mortality and a 33% lower risk of cancer-specific mortality).
  • Make you healthier (did you know that a low level of fitness is a bigger risk factor for mortality than mild-moderate obesity? It is better to be fit and overweight than unfit with a lower percentage of body fat).
  • Lead to higher SAT scores for adolescents.
  • Lower elementary school discipline incidents involving violence by 59% and decrease out of school suspensions by 67%.

Pretty unbelievable…and what makes this prescription so great is that filling it is virtually free!

So the bottom line is that each of us can do a great deal to improve the quality and longevity of our lives by working with our medical community.  We can also have an enormous impact on others by being an example and talking it up.  Let’s make exercise and eating healthy cool! To get the ball rolling, let’s all get out and join in the “Be Well Walk” starting from Longhorn Shores on Lady Bird Lake, Sunday, October 2, 2011, at 4 p.m..  This is a really cool organized walk sponsored by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and benefitting a number of local charities that are focused on getting all of us healthy and fit.  Check it out and register at www.bewellwalk.org and begin the path to a better life.  See you all there.

Keep Austin Fit,
Lou Earle, Publisher


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