Exercise is Medicine

Historically, exercise and physical activity have been essential for long-term health benefits, including minimizing health complications ranging from the aging process, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and even immunological function.

A medical professional dressed in blue scrubs offers a hand to help a patient performing a balancing exercise. The patient is balancing with one foot on top of a dome-like object.Routine and structured aerobic and resistance exercise have been shown to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, promoting a reduction in body fat, a decrease in insulin resistance and a reduction in high blood pressure, along with decreasing most negative effects with obesity.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has impacted everyone in some way or fashion. This has created a tremendous problem in individuals with pre-existing conditions attempting to recover or sustain a healthy part of life post-infection, often leading to minimal or no participation in routine exercise.

Returning to an active lifestyle can be a challenging task as individuals struggle to balance time between work, family and coping with recovery complications with COVID-19. As people try to return to a previous routine they had pre-infection, they may encounter more significant challenges compared with the previous attempt prior to COVID-19. Furthermore, most people tend to overtrain when returning to exercise. This can be even more difficult if pre-existing conditions or struggles due to COVID-19 infection exist.

How should a person approach returning to exercise? People may research the latest fitness trends online for guidance or seek out support of a fitness instructor, but they should understand that there are very specific, individual guidelines that exist for their needs when participating in exercise.

While attempting generic daily physical activity, such as taking the stairs or walking for 20-30 minutes per day, provides some benefit, the body acclimates to these activities due to unvarying adaptation in intensity, volume, frequency and duration of physical activity.

Having a comprehensive approach between healthcare professionals and exercise professionals enables a quality perspective regarding personal involvement in physical activity participation. Fortunately, patients of the Baylor Medicine Post Covid-Care Clinic have the opportunity to include scientific and clinically based exercise guidance developed by a clinical exercise physiologist as a part of their recovery strategy. This specialist ensures people undergo the right physical assessments to determine limitations and tailor customized programming that have measurable outcomes that are reliable and appropriate.

By Joel Gabriel Patlan, senior exercise physiologist in the Comprehensive Healthcare Clinic at Baylor Medicine.

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