Healthy Beginnings

Walk. Run. Dance. Play. What’s Your Move?

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Being physically active is one of the most important actions that people of all ages can take to improve their health. The evidence is clear — physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases.

Sadly, only 26 percent of men, 19 percent of women, and 20 percent of adolescent Americans report meeting minimum exercise guidelines. This sedentary lifestyle, coupled with the nutrient-deficient Standard American Diet (SAD), puts most Americans at high risk for avoidable chronic disease.

“High-intensity intermittent exercise has acute beneficial effects on endothelial function, postprandial lipemia, and chronic positive effects on weight management…[T]here is emerging evidence regarding chronic benefits on the blood lipid profile, blood pressure, and proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines,” according to a 2016 article.

“Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests beneficial acute and chronic effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise on cognition.”

The article also documents beneficial aspects of exercise on the three fastest growing health problems in America: type 2 diabetes(T2DM), depression, and obesity.

T2DM is poised to engulf the U.S. in a wave of chronic and debilitating disease. Mortality, as well as morbidity rate in diabetes mellitus, is alarmingly increasing, according to a 2013 study.

Fortunately, exercise has been shown to be beneficial in combatting the multitude of metabolic derangements seen in T2DM.

“Aerobic exercise is a valuable therapeutic strategy for T2DM as it has beneficial effects on physiological parameters and reduces the metabolic risk factors in insulin resistance diabetes mellitus…including glycemic control, fasting blood glucose level and lipid profile,” the study notes. “Moreover, it can restore the endothelial function and reduces the arterial stiffness which is the positive denominator for developing cardiovascular complications in T2DM.”

Resistance training (using muscle strength) transports glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells without the need for insulin. This has major positive impacts on T2DM long-term outcomes.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a global public health problem as the second leading cause of disability worldwide and projected to be the leading cause by 2030.

Depression affects all demographics from rich to poor and young to old. For years, exercise has been shown to be the most effective treatment, even surpassing antidepressants. When combined with antidepressants, studies have shown that exercise resulted in greater reduction in depression symptoms with 75 percent of the patients showing either a therapeutic response or a complete remission of symptoms versus 25 percent of those who did not exercise. Adding exercise also boosted patients’ sleep quality and cognition, both of which are impaired with MDD.

In 2015-2016 the prevalence of obesity was 39.8 percent and affected 93.3 million U.S. adults. Obesity is an insidious disease that leads to hypertension, heart disease, T2DM, cancer, and stroke.

Many of the ravaging side effects of obesity can be ameliorated with exercise.

A 2017 study found “evidence that combined resistance and aerobic exercise can be a useful therapeutic treatment for high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and central adiposity, thereby reducing the likelihood of pathological development for cardiovascular diseases in later adulthood.”

Even losing a few pounds can make profound metabolic improvements, and may be the difference between living healthfully into your 80’s or expiring in your 60’s.

HHS Guidelines on Exercise by Age

  • Pre-school aged children: physically active throughout the day.
  • Children and adolescents 6-17 years old: at least 60 minutes per day of aerobic activity combined with resistance training at least three days per week.
  • Adults: 150-300 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activity to include resistance strength training two or more days per week.
  • Older adults: 150 minutes per week of aerobic and resistance training as well as balance training. If unable to do 150 minutes per week, then what is tolerable.

See your doctor before beginning any exercise program!

Robert Floyd, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing integrative and functional medicine at Gerber Medical Clinic in Reno. Visit or call 775-826-1900 to learn more.


  1. Cooper SB et al, High-Intensity Intermittent Excercise: Effect on Young People’s Cariometabolic Health and Cognition, Curr Sports Med Rep, 2016 Jul-Aug;15(4):245-51
  2. Thent ZC et al, Role of Exercise in the Management of Diabetes Mellitus: the Global Scenario, PLoS One. 2013; 8(11): e80436. Published online 2013 Nov 13. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080436