Why Do Doctors Tell Me to Exercise and They Know I Can’t?
Ever hear your healthcare provider say these dreaded words to you?
“You’re overweight and you need to exercise and watch your diet,” Easier said than done, right? Sometimes you might look at the person saying that to you and think to yourself, “YOU need to lose some weight yourself!!”
The stigma of being called overweight, obese, and morbidly obese are clearly enough to not make anyone feel good about themselves. This can then spiral downward into depression, which also adds to the problem. I don’t believe anyone WANTS to be overweight. If you’ve ever been chastised by a healthcare provider regarding your weight, or simply told you need to diet and exercise without any further instructions, you may decide to postpone seeking healthcare or avoid interacting with healthcare providers.
Losing weight is like a two-sided coin. Cutting back on sweets, carbs, and any other vices one might have will surely help with weight loss, but that’s only half of the battle. It’s that other side of the coin that seems to get to most people. That dreaded eight letter word….EXERCISE.
The dictionary defines exercise as “to engage in physical activity to sustain or improve health and fitness.” They key words here are “physical activity.” That can include a plethora of things that one could do. It does not necessarily mean having to join a gym or other fitness classes to engage in physical activity.
As a primary care physician practicing Internal Medicine, I am on the front line when it comes to seeing patients who are struggling with their weight. Being overweight or obese is usually accompanied by other co-morbid conditions including musculoskeletal diseases, such as arthritis. The combination of these two things oftentimes makes it very difficult for patients to feel that they can indeed exercise because of pain.
If we substitute the word “MOVEMENT” for “EXERCISE” we quickly see that engaging in some sort of physical activity can then take on a whole new meaning. If you’re suffering from knee and hip pain, marching in place for 10 to 15 minutes a day and then working your way up in time is a start. To add in a little bit of cardio, take some soup cans and do arm raises. You can also do these things even while sitting. These are forms of MOVEMENT that can be done right in the comfort of your own home.
Don’t let the word EXERCISE stop you from MOVING towards your goal of losing weight and being physically active.
Carla Harwell, MD and Millicent Gorham, PhD (Hon.), FAAN, MBA