Over the past week, I received two interesting emails. One from a longtime client of mine and the other from someone I worked with abroad to lose substantial weight. I was very appreciative as both of these emails not only were “eye openers”, they didn’t come from the usual places one would find information about health and fitness news. Let’s start with the email I received from my client, A.
When I opened up his mail, I saw a link to the Harvard Business Review-not the Harvard school of Public Medicine. Now, A. himself is a very astute businessman so I thought he was sharing a good business idea with me. Then I read the headline, “Make Exercise Part of Your Work Routine”. I went on to read and was fascinated, although not surprised to read the email and the attached article. What it said was as follows:
“Regular exercise can produce countless benefits—from improved concentration and sharper memory to enhanced creativity and lower stress—all of which boost workplace performance. Yet many of us believe we don’t have the time. So instead of viewing exercise as something you do for yourself, consider physical activity as part of the work itself. Here are a few ways to incorporate more exercise into your routine:”
- Identify a physical activity you like. You’re more likely to stick with an activity if you enjoy doing it. If you’re not into treadmills, try tennis or swimming.
- Invest in improving your performance. Don’t think of it as “getting some exercise.” Focus on mastering an activity. Hire a coach, enroll in a class, and buy the right clothing and equipment.
- Become part of a group. Find an exercise regimen that involves other people. It can be more fun and keep you committed.
Yes, I have told you that exercise is good for everything, but here in a business oriented publication, we are hearing that exercise should be considered as part of your workday! You need to do this to be productive. And yes, it will help your learning as well for the same reasons. And here’s more: On days when employees visited the gym, their experience at work changed. They reported managing their time more effectively, being more productive, and having smoother interactions with their colleagues. Just as important: They went home feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.
Instead of viewing exercise as something we do for ourselves—a personal indulgence that takes us away from our work—start considering physical activity as part of the work itself. The alternative, which involves processing information more slowly, forgetting more often, and getting easily frustrated, makes us less effective at our jobs and harder to get along with for our colleagues.
The second email, sent to me by S., came from an article in the Wall Street Journal- a paper known for its accuracy in journalism, but usually for business, finance and news, not necessarily about fitness and diet. This article was titled, “Doctors Dole out Prescriptions for Exercise.”
Those of us who deal day in and day out with diet and exercise, know that exercise really is medicine and can be as effective, and in certain circumstances, more effective than medications. I personally have seen diabetes go away, cholesterol and triglycerides return to normal levels and blood pressure readings drop dramatically in people who exercised, changed their diet and without taking meds. Well, now it seems that some doctors are beginning to realize this also. According to this report, patients are coming out of the doctor’s office with prescriptions for physical activity in addition to drugs, doctor referrals and follow-up protocols. Doctors are working exercise counseling into office visits and calling exercise a “vital sign” to be measured when they take readings like pulse and blood pressure. Rather than just explain the dangers of inactivity, they suggest the right amount of exercise, and in some cases refer patients to certified trainers or physical therapists who can design regimens for different medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes that might limit certain activities.
Doctors and fitness professionals are also beginning to realize that even though many people think they are getting enough exercise and meeting minimal requirements for health, they aren’t. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found only about 10% of adults actually met recommended levels, though 62% reported they did.
Some large health systems are already seeing the benefits of prescribing exercise. At Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland, California, nurses or medical assistants ask patients how many minutes a week they exercise and enter the data in their electronic medical records along with other traditional vital signs including blood pressure, pulse, breathing and temperature. Doctors then identify patients who may benefit from additional physical activity and discuss what activity is best. They may refer them for telephone health coaching, appointments with behavioral specialists or other programs to promote a healthy lifestyle. They may suggest different modes of exercise, including yoga, tai-chi and Zumba classes. Kaiser also sponsors an exercise tracker to encourage movement.
A few weeks ago, a popular magazine featured a Beit Shemesh family doctor who has added a lifestyle program into his practice. He has also found that the results from diet and exercise and overhauling lifestyle habits brings better results than medications sometimes do. This is all very encouraging, and will hopefully become a trend in the medical field. Two interesting emails this week, both of which have me very encouraged about getting more people to exercise and reap the benefits of doing so. Exercise will help you be a more productive person in your daily tasks, whether at work or in the Beis Medresh and will “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”