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Exercise and Physical Activity as Medicine

It’s probably safe to say that most people know exercise is good for them. Perhaps you’ve heard the adage “sitting is the new smoking”?

But if it’s such a good thing, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Many people think of exercise as a means to an end. That “goal” may be to lose weight, keep a new year’s resolution, or just become generally healthier. But it’s actually so much more than that.

Inactivity is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for global mortality.

Those with an inactive lifestyle have a 20-30% higher rate of mortality than those who are physically active.

Some guidelines for physical activity:

2018 US Dept of Health and Human Services Guidelines for Physical Activity for Americans

For Adults:

  • Move more and sit less throughout the day
  • 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week


  • 75-100 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week


  • Equivalent combination of each intensity each week


  • Muscle strengthening activity involving all major muscle groups at least 2 days a week
  • Balance training for older adults

But making exercise all about avoiding death takes so much of the fun out.

The truth is, there are many more positive reasons to exercise than negative ones.

For example:

  • Weight loss and/ or weight maintenance
  • Improved strength and endurance
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Improved fatigue
  • Improved bowel function (reduces constipation)
  • Reduced blood pressure

The list goes on and on and on.

But even when people know the importance of exercise, many of them still can’t manage to make it a part of their lives. You may have also experienced what it’s like to run into these obstacles.

Some common reasons people don’t exercise include:

  • Motivation
  • Time
  • Weather
  • Fear
  • Money/ Cost / Equipment
  • Kids/ Family
  • Knowledge
  • Fatigue
  • Age

So…how can you overcome these hurdles?

A helpful practice is to stop seeing them as a large mass of insurmountable obstacles. Instead, look closely at all of your reasons for not exercising and think up strategies for overcoming them.

For instance, if time is an issue, look for ways to incorporate physical activity into your normal routine. You probably have time for a couple pushups in the morning. A tiny portion of the time you spend scrolling on your phone could be put into getting your heartrate up for a couple minutes.

Or, if knowledge is the issue, go ahead and follow some fitness accounts on social media. Little nuggets of useful information will start ro filter their way into your feed.

Here’s a mantra for overcoming the hurdles between you and physical activity:

Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Each day, move more and play.
Add more years to your life and more life to your years.

This blog is an excerpt from a group visit Dr. Ashley Woods hosted with patients who are part of our MaxWell Care program. Our group visits (available only to our MaxWell Care patients) are designed to change your life and supercharge your health.

If you have questions about MaxWellCare and how to join please click here to learn more or call us at 615-370-0091. We’d love to help you Maximize your Wellness!

This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This blog does not constitute the practice of any medical, nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. We cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions or make specific treatment recommendations through this blog or website.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone immediately.

Ashley Woods, MD

Dr. Woods' focus is on her patients and their wellbeing. She believes in the innate intelligence of the human body and its capacity to heal given the correct environment, nutrition, support and tools. She seeks to find the root cause of patients’ symptoms in the context of each individual’s unique genetics, environment, and lifestyle.