beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Thinking about Exercise

Posted 8/20/2015

Posted in

  Yes, I am aware that I have written about the benefits of exercise many times. Yes, I am pretty bored by the subject, too. However, I am doing it again today as a way of sharing a wonderful essay by Jane Brody in the New York Times. All of my earlier posts have highlighted to likely benefits of exercise in reducing cancer risk and, maybe, cancer recurrence. Related, of course, to weight and fat stores and estrogen that lurks in that fat, exercise is also known to be helpful to our cardiac and overall health. These seem like good reasons to lace up those sneakers, but many of us find it difficult to stick to those routines.

  Some years ago, I read a study about immediate benefits of exercise. A number of tired people were divided into three groups; one was told to take a half hour nap, one to have a large coffee, and one to take a half hour walk. Several hours later, the walkers felt much more energetic and motivated than the sleepers and coffee drinkers. It reminds me of my mother's insistence that we get up, shower, and get dressed when we complained of not feeling well and needing to stay home to lie around all day (in her defense, this was not her directive when we were clearly sick). She knew that, once up and moving around, her children were almost certain to "recover" and want to go to school or out with friends. It's the old the more you do, the more you can do and vice versa.

  Ms. Brody's essay has reminded me that I do feel better when I go to the gym first thing in the morning. It actually does make a difference in my general energy level and certainly reduces the stiffness and joint aches and pains that accompany me (and many of you) due to anti-estrogen/hormonal treatments. Here is the start and a link to read more:

Rethinking Exercise as a Source of Immediate Rewards
By Jane E. Brody

I was going to skip my daily swim the other morning. I had already walked three miles with a friend and taken
my dog to the park for his exercise. I was really tired, my back was sore, I had a column to write and lots to do around the house.
But I knew from past experience that I would feel much better after 40 minutes of swimming laps. So in I went. And, yes, I did feel better — not just refreshed, but more energetic, clearheaded and better prepared than I would have been otherwise to tackle the day’s essentials.
Michelle Segar, who directs the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of
Michigan, would say I had reframed my exercise experience, making it ever more likely that I would continue to swim — even on days when I didn’t feel like doing it — because I viewed it as a positive, restorative activity. Indeed, exercise is something I do, not because I have to or was told to, but because I know it makes me feel better.
Dr. Segar, a psychologist who specializes in helping people adopt and maintain regular exercise habits, is the author of “No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.” Her research has shown that even people who say they hate to exercise or have repeatedly fallen off the exercise wagon can learn to enjoy it and stick with it.
Three years ago, I wrote about research by Dr. Segar and others showing that promoting physical activity to
prevent or control disease, lose weight or sculpt one’s body, and prescribing doses as if exercise were medicine, wouldn’t get most people to do it and keep doing it.
“Health is not an optimal way to make physical activity relevant and compelling enough for most people


Add your comment