The Doctor’s Note: Is exercise worth the commitment?

Exercise is important, but often we can’t find the time or energy to do some kind of exercise on a regular basis. A recent study provides evidence that not exercising can be worse for your health than having diabetes, heart disease or smoking. If you have a chronic condition, exercise can be as beneficial as the medications you take.

A large study involving more than 120,000 patients and lasting over 20 years confirmed that being physically fit leads to a lower risk of death from any cause. This study was unique since it was the first large scale study at a medical center where every patient was exercise tested, and not just asked to report their fitness level. The results showed that the benefits from exercise were seen across the population, and continued to increase as the amount of regular exercise increased.

Regular exercise to sustain high fitness levels was shown to be especially helpful in older patients and in those with high blood pressure. “Use it or lose it” is a common phrase we all say, and this study suggests that it is accurate when talking about our fitness level and how long we may live.

Before starting an exercise program, check with your physician first to be sure it is safe for you to exercise. Your physician can help determine the best type of exercise for you to achieve your fitness goals. We were made to be active throughout life, so renew your commitment to staying fit as you age. Your return on this investment will last a lifetime.

Michael Atwood, M.D., CHIE, is the vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. He is a board certified family physician and an American Academy of Family Physicians fellow.

Source: JAMA Netw Open. 2018; 1(6):e183605. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3605

Note: Since the date of this publication, Dr. Atwood has retired from BCBSKS.

13 Replies to “The Doctor’s Note: Is exercise worth the commitment?”

  1. I would be happy to get into an exercise program ; Medicare and secondary Wont pay for it !! There are a lot of programs that would help the elderly/disabled people that would benefit ” Us ” more than paying to shove pills into our bodies
    to treat symptoms rather than the problem however Medicare/Secondary Won’t Pay for it. Start paying for more natural healing approaches such as Massage, Chiropractic, Stem Cell treatments, IV therapies, Nutritional supplements and more. Stop pushing pills getting people addicted then telling them you won’t cover the med, won’t cover any recovery care as a result of pill pushing, won’t pay for necessary med equipment ON AND ON. START PAYING FOR THE NECESSARY CARE FOR THE ELDERLY/DISABLED AND AMERICAN VETS.
    MY OPINION !!

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  2. A dentist in Lincoln Ks always walked around town, was active in activities for Boy Scouts, did a lot to stay healthy. He still died of cancer. So it doesn’t matter what we do, may as well live YOUR life like YOU want to, EAT what YOU want to, ENJOY LIFE, cause no matter what, when YOUR number is up, there is NO delaying it, nor denying it. Healthy people croak every day. We could die unexpectedly 5 min from now, from a stroke, heart attack, or brain aneurysm. Stop obsessing over getting that weight off. I have seen people stick to a strick diet, and once they achieved it, fiund out they too had cancer. We can’t cheat death, so LIVE YOUR LIFE to the FULLEST!!!

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  3. I wonder if it would be possible to offer an online or television workout that would be presented by BC/BS perhaps five days weekly and aimed at retirees. I’ve not thought this through but as an idea, it seems like it could be well-received and helpful!

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  4. I too would really be happy to see BCBS help with a program like Silver Sneakers. T

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  5. I agree with the others, if BCBS is suggesting continual exercise to stay healthy, wouldn’t the patient and BCBS benefit if BCBS helped pay for gym costs? Or help people buy at home equipment? Or even provide work outs online or on CD’s?

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  6. It would mean so much if Blue Cross would cover exercise at gym. I had to discontinue my visit because I could no longer afford. Thinking about goin going a plan that offer this as a part of benefits.

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  7. As a personal trainer and fitness instructor I agree with using exercise and a healthy diet to stay healthy. Since I have had two injuries in the last few years that require surgery I have had to rely on weight watchers to control weight. It’s working and I am still in a healthy BMI.

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    1. I do a lot of walking and weight training to stay in shape. Inexpensive!

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      1. I agree walking is an inexpensive exercise that everyone can fit into their schedule. That is a speed walk or jog. Cardio!!!!! 🚶🏃

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  8. It would be great if BCBS would offer a discount on gym memberships as other health insurers do

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