Combat Concerns and Worries to Break Down Barriers to Success
CHICAGO - Many people want to be fit, but find excuses that prevent them from starting an exercise program.
Vivienne Halpern, MD, a vascular surgeon at the Phoenix VA Health Care System and a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery®, said that simple exercise can actually help people improve illness such as peripheral artery disease, a condition where there is a reduction in blood flow in the arteries of the limbs due to plaque blockage. Initially there is leg pain (or tightness, heaviness, cramping, or weakness) when walking or during an activity, which subsides when a person stops to rest. Exercising and walking regularly, at least 30 minutes three times each week, may help improve your symptoms.
“Many times vascular surgeons plan a supervised exercise walking program on a treadmill to improve the amount of time a person can walk, lessen their disability and decrease the chance of cardiovascular events,” said Dr. Halpern. “The program helps get more oxygen to the arteries and muscles, strengthens the leg muscles, and can improve oxygen-rich blood flow to the legs.”
It is now 2013, so resolve to walk or do other exercises this year. Dr. Halpern added that you are never too old for physical activity and fitness is important to our health as we age. Resolve to eliminate any excuses may keep you from exercising. Here are some excuses and ways to overcome them:
- You think you don’t have enough time for exercise, you're tired, or are bored with it. If you are out of shape, you may feel tired. However by planning a schedule, you can block out 15 minutes per day for exercise. Walk with friends outside in nice weather or in a mall, while engaging in conversation; the 15 minutes will go by quickly. If you cannot find people to walk with or dislike exercising in public, stay home and pedal your stationary bike while watching television or listening to music. Bored with your routine? Change patterns in your exercise, like taking different walking paths to keep your interest up.
- I’m afraid I might fall. If exercising at home, make sure your home has good lighting, uncluttered floors and no loose rugs. If you go outdoors make sure that all walking areas are clear and level. When beginning, you may wish to work on chair exercises, ride a low level a recumbent bike, or exercise in a pool. Keeping your ankles and legs strong and flexible also will reduce your risk of falls.
- Exercise causes pain. For some conditions like arthritis, exercise may even reduce pain. Exercise for healthy people should be at a moderate level and aerobic, to keep people fit and energetic. If you have a condition, talk with your care provider to see if you are exercising properly and not overdoing it, which might cause pain. Find out whether a specific movement is right for you.
- I might not be able to do the exercise at all. Do whatever you are able to do –no matter how short or how easy–moving will be much more beneficial than doing nothing at all. Be happy about what you can do rather than feeling bad about what you can’t. New things may seem impossible to do, but when goals are broken down into time segments you will feel successful every time you complete a small step. Keep exercise simple for one minute at a time, several times a day. Better fitness even can help you cope with an illness and may prevent further problems.
- I might have a heart attack. Research shows that the risk of illness or heart attack is much greater for people who are not physically active.
About the Society for Vascular Surgery
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 4,008 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its Web site at www.VascularWeb.org