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Duke Medicine: Exercise isn't optional; it's mandatory for good health

Posted May 13, 2013

Some people speak of a “runner’s high ”— an intoxicating feeling derived from going the distance and pushing your limits. And then there are those for whom exercise is a chore, an item to be checked off a to-do list.

Matthew Hayes, DO, of Duke Primary Care Waverly Place believes everyone can — and must — exercise, and that there’s some kind of exercise out there for everybody and every body. He takes exercise so seriously that he gives each of his patients a prescription for it.

“I prescribe specific ways to exercise — running, lifting, tennis, and more — based on what my patients like to do,” he says. “I make recommendations on frequency and duration of exercise based on the patient’s current fitness level. I then discuss intensity using target heart rate or how much exertion you feel. It can get fairly scientific in a high-level someone just starting out.”

Hayes tells his patients that exercise is essential to good health and that making time for exercise has to be among the things you consider non-negotiable. You have to buy groceries. You have to pay bills. You also have to exercise—even if you have to trick yourself into doing it.

Sneaking exercise into the day is something anyone can do, Hayes says. “Take the stairs, park farther away than you need to, walk to lunch. Try 10 minutes of core exercise and push ups to start the day or a 15-minute walk over your lunch break. It adds up.”

If you have kids, get them into the game, too.

“Encourage kids to play outside, like we did growing up,” Hayes says. “Limit their screen time to less than two hours a day, and set a good example by being active yourself.”

For more advice from Hayes on fitting exercise into your life, including his "five sneaky" tips, read the full post at DukeHealth.org. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information every Tuesday.

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