The Miracle Drug

“Two thirds of health care costs are driven by our daily choices  – WE are in the driver’s seat.” – Institute of Medicine, 2006

There’s a miracle drug that’s been on the market for a long time that:

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease by 40%
  • Increases the good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Lowers the risk of stroke by 27%
  • Improves mental sharpness
  • Reduces the incidence of diabetes by almost 50%
  • Improves the quality of sleep
  • Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by almost 50%
  • Can slow the aging process
  • Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by almost 50%
  • Can relieve stress and anxiety
  • Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%
  • Enhances your self-image
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight and body composition
  • Can reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease by 33%
  • Can decrease mild to moderate depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy
  • Improves the quality of your life
  • Can prevent or reverse osteoporosis


I’ll bet you’d like your prescription to this magic pill, wouldn’t you?

Well, the short and sweet version of this prescription is…


May is Exercise is Medicineâ„¢ month! The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), along with the American Medical Association (AMA) launched the Exercise is Medicineâ„¢ program in 2007 to recognize, emphasize and celebrate the valuable health benefits of exercise on a national scale. Exercise and physical activity are important to health, the prevention & treatment of many chronic diseases, and tremendous health benefits are seen with even low levels of exercise.

This week, I’m going to talk about cardio-respiratory, or aerobic, exercise. And, in next week’s post, I’ll outline the recommendations for strength training. In the final post, flexibility and neuro-muscular (functional) training will be the focus.

Cardio-respiratory (Aerobic) Exercise, or Cardio, for short…

Cardio-respiratory exercise is all about exercising your heart and lungs to make the them more efficient at delivering life-giving oxygen to the cells of your body.

Oh, you thought it was about weight loss? Well, granted, aerobic exercise is known to help your body “burn” excess calories, aiding in losing weight. However, even thin folks need to exercise their heart and lungs!

I will not get up on my soapbox to rant about how the dysfunctional marriage of exercise and diet mentality needs to head to divorce court!

Really, I will not get up on my soapbox to rant about how the dysfunctional marriage of exercise and diet mentality needs to head to divorce court!

No, seriously, I promise, I will NOT get up on my soapbox to rant about how the dysfunctional marriage of exercise and diet mentality needs to head to divorce court!

Oops, sorry…stepping down now…

So, to maintain your health and reduce the risk for chronic disease, engage in moderately intense cardio-respiratory exercise, such as walking or low-impact aerobics, for 30 minutes a day, five days a week (150 minutes), or do vigorously intense cardio-respiratory exercise, such as jogging or running, for 20 minutes a day, three days a week (60 minutes).

*Note: Now, if you DO want to shed some pounds or you’re training for an athletic event, you’ll need to increase your time on the track or in the Zumba class to around 60 minutes, five days a week (300 minutes) of moderate activity or 40 minutes, three times per week (120 minutes) of vigorous activity.

20934472_sSo, how do you gauge your intensity level – what’s considered moderate and what’s considered vigorous?

An easy way to do this is to the “talk test.” If you can carry on a normal conversation while exercising, you’re probably working at a moderate pace. If you can only get out a sentence at a time before taking a breath while exercising, then you’re probably exercising at a vigorous intensity.

For many of my clients, time is a big obstacle to getting their exercise in. If it’s difficult for you to find time to get in 30 or 60 minutes at a time, the research shows that short bouts of exercise throughout the day are just as effective. Check out this article  about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which uses one-minute intervals of exercise.

Another great way to overcome the time issue and work the exercise into your day is to wear a pedometer and aspire to walk 10,000 steps a day or about five miles. The Walking Site has some valuable tips on how to get started. Suddenly, you’ll look for the parking space WAYYYyy out on the fringes of the parking lot, just to get more steps in. Really!

If you’re reluctant to join a gym or the weather always seems to thwart your walks or runs, Leslie Sansone offers some neat DVDs so you can walk (and jog) at home. Anticipating a snowy winter, I ordered a couple of Leslie’s DVDs. Even though we had a mild winter, I’ve been using the DVDs for the past few months, saving me from driving six miles from my rural home (no good/safe place to run) into town to run. I love them- my heart rate is right up there where it should be – all in the comfort of my TV room.

If you’re interested in learning to jog/run, the C25K program is awesome for the novice. In nine weeks, this program takes you from being a Couch Potato to running 5 kilometers (about 3 miles)!

Other forms of cardio-respiratory exercise are activities like Zumba, cycling, cross-country skiing, roller skating – anything that elevates your heart rate and sustains it for at least 20 minutes.

What’s your favorite Cardio activity?

Leave your response in the comments below and come back next week to learn more about Strength Training.. And, remember, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

Lisa :-)

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4 responses to “The Miracle Drug”

  1. This is a great blog post, Lisa. Lots of wonderful resources and helpful things to think about — and take action around. We are in a “miracle drug” society. We want it quick and we want it easy. I go there too, but I don’t camp there long. At my age, I realize that only exercise and food choices that support my health will give me extra “granny time.” My absolute favorite exercise is walking in the woods in my three labs. I get a super workout — both for my body and for my mind. Thanks for the great reminder! Blessings!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Lee! I love that your favorite exercise is walking your labs in the woods – I’m happy that you can see that this activity COUNTS as exercise. Yea! Along with our society being a “miracle drug” society, we also seem to be a “all or nothing” society – folks seem to think that the only exercise is the exercise that takes place in a gym or on a treadmill. And, if they can’t manage to do that, then nothing else counts, so the idea of hiking with their dogs as an acceptable form of exercise doesn’t even occur to them.

      Lisa :-)

  2. Great article Lisa! Like the way it’s put together. Although, don’t know about that dysfunctional marriage/exercise bit…I thought at first you were reading my mind LOL. I am going to share this one with my dear hubby. We have this conversation dozens of times and it always ends the same way. I don’t have time…. On statins, not really heavy just needs aerobic exercise (and to lay off white pastey things…carbs). Yesterday again I suggested he do 10 min am, 10 min mid day, 10 min evening. I have read the 1 minute burst things (couple trainers advocate), so I will post that and see if he reads it!! I like the idea of the 1 minute bursts a lot actually. And I also have a Sansone DVD (now if I could only find it…). We all have time issues, but we do other things and make time for it, so why not make time for exercise.

    (This is a similar comparison: I’ll never forget in a marriage class at church some years ago….one of the videos had a mother telling her daughter, “Why would you not give your husband 10 minutes a week…it’s such a small amount of time for something he enjoys so much.” True and almost humorous, but the same thought can apply to exercise. Why would we not give our bodies exercise every day so we can feel so much better! Okay, I’m stepping down off of MY platform now…..tks :-)

    • Anita, thanks so much for taking time to comment! Funny about the dysfunctional marriage thing. What I was actually talking about is how our society has “married” exercise with weight loss. It’s another reason that when folks fall off the “diet” wagon, they also fall off the exercise wagon, as well. Regardless of your weight, everyone needs cardio-respiratory, strength training and flexibility activities in their daily lives. Hence, the divorce of exercise and diet! LOL!

      However, I feel your pain in trying to convince loved ones (read husbands, parents, siblings, etc.) to do the “right thing.” I find it quite humorous that my clients consider me an expert in my field and pay me good money to help them achieve their wellness goals, yet family members don’t think to consult me at all! I believe one of the most inspired healers/teachers of all time had the same problem when he suggested that one cannot be a prophet in one’s own hometown (Luke 4:24).

      Yes, I agree with you – why would we not do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to give our bodies (and minds and spirits, too) the best chance to be at optimal wellness?

      Lisa :-)