In mid-November 2014, my travels took me to San Diego to speak at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R). This was an excellent meeting held at the San Diego Convention Center. The theme of this year’s meeting was “A Focus on Function Through Exercise. I thought that was an excellent theme because it speaks to the power of exercise not only to treat and prevent disease, but also to improve a person’s ability to function and thus their quality of life. I think for most of us, quality of life is even more important than quantity of life. But by doing regular exercise like walking, you can improve on both how long you live and how well you function while you are living. Exercise really is a medicine that gives a double benefit for the price of one!
I gave two talks while at this meeting. The first was an international symposium on “Exercise is Medicine”, organized by my friend and colleague from Portugal, Dr. Rita Tomas. In this presentation I talked about the importance of doctors prescribing daily walking to their patients, just as if it were a medicine. In fact, I keep some pre-printed prescription pads in my office that I give to patients which advises them to walk for 30 minutes at a moderate pace on five or more days each week.
My second talk involved discussing what I thought were the two best papers in the area of sports and exercise medicine over the past year. I picked two papers that I feel help define the minimum and maximum dose of exercise needed to optimize health. The first paper showed that jogging even as little as 30 minutes per week (5 minutes, on 6 days each week) gave a significant reduction (~30%) in mortality. The study further showed that while those who exercised throughout their life had the lowest mortality, those who even did it during a portion of their life had significant benefit. The second paper I presented was on a study showing that men who had been marathon runners for over 20 years had more evidence of heart damage (measured by coronary calcium scores) than men who were not runners. I think there is emerging evidence that too much exercise can also be bad for you and that like with most things in life, moderation is the key.
Of course, while I was in San Diego I was able to get my daily walking done and enjoy some beautiful views of the San Diego Bay and Marina, as well as some long strolls thru the Gas Lamp District. The weather was beautiful and the city was packed with walkers, which only added to the enjoyment of my favorite pastime – walking.
Thank you again for reading my blog and helping to spread the word on the power of walking to improve health.
Keep walking everyone!