In early February 2017, my travels took me to Tempe, Arizona to speak at the 12th Annual Building Healthy Lifestyles Conference. This is a great meeting organized by my friend Dr. Glen Gaesser and the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University (ASU). The conference brought together experts in physical activity, nutrition and wellness with a goal of translating research and practice into skills for building healthy lifestyles. The audience included those from a wide variety of disciplines, including public health professionals, physicians, dieticians, exercise physiologists, nurses and school health professions. There were also undergraduate, graduate and post graduate students as well, from virtually all health related fields. So this was a very eclectic group that was fun to speak to.
The title of my presentation was “Exercise is Medicine: Leveraging the Connection between physical activity and health”. In my talk I spoke about the many and varied health benefits gained by regular exercise and the need to think about exercise as a medication that one should take to help prevent and treat chronic disease. It is clear that chronic disease has become the plague of the 21st century. In fact, 7 of the top 10 causes of death in the US are chronic diseases, with heart disease and cancer leading the way and accounting for almost half of all deaths. All told, chronic diseases cause about 70% of the deaths among Americans every year. This is not surprising in light of the fact that around half of all adults suffer with at least one or more chronic diseases and nearly a quarter have 2 or more.
What’s amazing is that chronic diseases are in large part mostly preventable and I highlighted the fact that walking is perhaps the single best tool we have to prevent and treat them. The great thing about walking is that it doesn’t take any special equipment and almost anyone can do it. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and a safe place to walk. That is why I regularly prescribe walking to my patients as a first line treatment for most all of the common chronic diseases I encounter daily in my practice. I see first-hand how much better my patients who walk feel and the improvements that occur in virtually every aspect of their health and well-being. That is why I love to speak on this topic and spread the word on this important prescription.
Of course, while I was in Phoenix I made sure to get out and walk. Actually, hiking is the more accurate term and I found some great places to do it. I especially enjoyed hiking up Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale and Haden Butte right there in Tempe, next to Sun Devil Stadium and ASU. They are both great hikes that reward you with amazing views when you get to the top.
Thanks as always for reading my blog. I hope you are doing well and walking (or hiking) every day.
Keep walking my friends