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

Manage diabetes and joint pain with movement

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47 percent of people with arthritis also have diabetes. The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis and in many cases, it is caused by excessive weight gain. The weight gain increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Having diabetes can potentially damage joint surfaces. The extra glucose sticks to surfaces of the joint and inhibits movement and leads to stiffness, greater risk of physical injury and falls. People who experience joint damage have increased pain and reduce physical activity. Exercise and the loss of just 15 pounds is known to reduce pain by 50 percent. The more exercise and movement, the less joint pain and relief of diabetes symptoms. Suggestions for prevention and treatment include stretching exercises, resistance training, aerobic exercise, improving glucose control, losing a few pounds, use of heat and cold therapy, and keeping affective joints warm in cold weather. Moving your body is one of the essential key to managing diabetes.

Miss Moti-vation by Kripa Joshi


Julie Kneeder, EdD, MS, RN and Tamara Huff, MD

Plan to attend the A.C.T NOW! Rally. 

Since 2010, Movement is Life, (MIL) a multi-stakeholder group, has been focused on decreasing musculoskeletal health disparities among women and racial/ethnic minorities by raising awareness of their impact on chronic disease management and quality of life. Our efforts and programs to educate and provide access to change have targeted patients, healthcare providers, communities, and policymakers.

Unfortunately, it remains a tragic fact that racism continues to exist in our healthcare delivery system and is silently killing individuals every day. The restructuring of healthcare payment models could have an even greater debilitating effect on our communities. The time for action and change is NOW!

MIL has always been a catalyst for change by energizing multi-disciplinary work groups and developing partnerships with individuals who are working to address similar issues. To that end, we are happy to announce that Movement is Life, will join the National Council of Churches in their A.C.T. NOW! (awaken, confront, transform) Rally on the National Mall on April 4, 2018. Dr. Mary I. O’Connor, Chair of the MIL Steering Committee, will speak during the program.

We aim to bring the following message:

Racism and bias exist in our healthcare system.

The color of one’s skin should not determine access to and quality of healthcare.

One’s zip-code should not determine one’s lifespan

We need to work together to increase awareness and end racism and unequal treatment in healthcare.

We need to support candidates who will work with us to ensure equitable care.

Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues and constituencies. To get more information about the A.C.T NOW! Rally and to Plan to attend the A.C.T NOW! Rally. 

Please join us on the National Mall to bring the message that we must end racism in our health care system NOW!

Learn more about church health ministries on HealthUnlocked. 

Does your church now have a health ministry or healthy activities?

One church that does have a health ministry is the Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York City. Grace is a vibrant and diverse church located in the heart of one of the world’s greatest metropolitan areas. Reverend Richardson has led Grace Baptist since 1975. He has been a leader and catalyst for civil rights over many decades.

Like many campaigners, he sees initiatives to improve health as part of a broader civil rights movement. We were honored to have Reverend Richardson give a keynote speech at the recent Movement is Life Conference and it was inspirational. Learn more about church health ministries on HealthUnlocked. 

Can You Change Your Health Destiny

Can you change your health destiny? Dr. Camara Jones uses stories and pictures to untangle the complexities of health disparities.

Someone recently commented that “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated”. Ring any bells?

Actually, many people really do understand how complicated health care is – and they spend every waking hour trying to find solutions to these complex problems, including our featured health commentator today.

One of the “complications” in health care is something called “disparities”. Disparities are really “differences” for certain groups of people, particularly women and people of color. There are differences in access to care, the quality of that care and differences in the results.

In reality, some people simply do worse and some do better. So, why do these disparities arise? And what can we do about it?

Most people agree that everyone should have the same quality of care, and that differences are unfair, but it’s harder to agree on who or what is at fault. One thing is clear: if you understand how things work you are in a better position to make the best of the situation.

In her recent talk at the Movement is Life Conference, Dr. Camara Jones shared her unique method of explaining the complicated way that disparities arise, using stories and pictures. During her talk, a clearer picture emerges, as do some solutions. Here are some of the headlines:

+++ We all need to find the courage and the tools to talk about disparities and racism in health.

+++ Good health is like being at the top of a cliff. When people fall off this cliff we start to intervene – often too late.

+++ If we want to dismantle racism in health we have to intervene before people fall – we need to move people away from the edge of the cliff.

+++ We need to accept that there are “social determinants of health.” Health is often determined by adverse “social” factors such as poverty, wealth, neighborhood safety, jobs, transportation, and availability of opportunities.

+++ Many things that impact health are out of the control of the individual.

+++ Racial and ethnic health disparities arise in many ways.

+++ “Racism” is often systematic, not just the result of a conscious individual. It is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on how someone looks.

+++ We provide different care to people depending on the color of their skin or if they are male or female. Data shows this is happening all the time and in most places where people get care.

+++ Healthcare is “distributed” by systems of power, control, and management. These systems do not distribute health care evenly.

Watch Dr. Jones’ presentation on Can You Change Your Health Destiny at HealthUnlocked.

illustration of woman doing yoga

Daily Practice of Mindful Behaviors

Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight involves the daily practice of mindful behaviors. Mindfulness is all about making conscious decisions with full awareness and acceptance of your emotions and fears. It is about being present in the moment and making a healthful decision in that moment.

Simple daily habits like eating fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, & healthy fats, controlling portion size, using alcohol judiciously, quitting tobacco and keeping moving will start you on the path to weight loss, and a healthier lifestyle.

Movement is absolutely mission critical. This is true not only from an energy or calorie expenditure perspective. Staying mobile improves every aspect of your wellbeing. Whether you are walking, dancing, or skipping rope physical activity affects your heart rate, your breathing, your circulation and your muscles, bones, and joints. You’ll sleep better, too. And, keeping moving has the added benefit of lifting your mood. You can kiss that late afternoon sluggishness or evening letdown goodbye.

Getting to your goal weight, and more importantly getting into a lifestyle of healthy habits is easier than it seems. Grab a friend and get started today!

Charla Johnson, RN, MSN, ONC and James E. Wood, Jr. MD