Dr. Thaddeus Bell, a family practice physician, explains the importance of regular physical activity. 000a000a
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Q: What advice do you give your patients about exercise? Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Well, first of all, exercise doesn’t cost any money. You don’t have to go to the gym in order to get your good pair of walking shoes and walk in the park or walk around the block of your home. Secondly, you can do it almost anytime. You can do it at night; you can do it in the daytime. I personally like to exercise in the morning. I do it with friends. Oftentimes, when I want to just think and get in contact with my spiritual being, I exercise. So there are just a lot of reasons on why you should do it. And I’d like to emphasize that the type of exercise that most people can do is free. People use it costs money to go to the gym. Well, you don’t have to go to the gym to go for walk. But I have to make sure that people understand that it is something that you have to do regularly. You can't do it once or twice a week and then skip the next week and expect to get the benefits of it. Q: Do you find that your patients may not know the benefits of exercise? Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Well, it’s interesting. I saw a patient yesterday and this patient had never been told as a diabetic that exercise was as good as taking the medicine and eating the right kind of food. A doctor had not told him that it is a major part of keeping his diabetes under control. Now, I think once people understand how important it is and I think that once people understand that the doctor expects you to do all of the things that he’s recommending, don’t leave out the exercise. I think once people understand that, they will start doing it. And then finally, I think that once people start getting good results. I’ve never had a patient who started exercising and came back and said, “I don’t feel better as a result doing this.” I have a lot of people who do the wrong thing, try to do it too fast and then get hurt. But by and large if they follow the directions that I give them, they will do it and hopefully they will exercise for life. Q: Is it difficult to get your patients to exercise? Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Yes, it is difficult because most of the time, patients don’t want to hear about exercise. Most patients look at exercise as being work. And I don’t think that they fully appreciate what exercise brings to the table with reference to their overall health. Q: What reasons do patients give you for not exercising? Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Well, there are several reasons why people don’t exercise. People will tell you that they don’t have time. People will often not understand what exercise brings to the table. I don’t think people fully appreciate that exercise plays a major role when you are trying to treat diabetes or hypertension. And it also plays a major role if you are overweight and if you are going to maintain your weight. And then, there are some funny reasons, too, and there are some ethnic reasons. A lot of African-American women will tell you that exercise is difficult for them because it messes up their hair and because when you exercise, you sweat a lot and as a result, it’s harder to get the hair do that you would like to get going forward. So I think that there are lots of reasons why people don’t do it. I think that people oftentimes get exercise confused with work. They think that if they do something physically work, then that’s enough to make it worthwhile and to make it useful when it comes to medical issues.