The San Quentin News “ Health and Wellness Corner” column runs every month. A University of California, San Francisco health professional student will answer questions that you submit about health issues. Inquiries will be answered in the next month’s paper. Feel free to ask us questions about any medical concern that you have, and it may be answered so that everyone can benefit. If you have a question, put it in a U-Save-Em envelope addressed to: “Health and Wellness Corner,” UCSF Doctors (Dr. Shira Shavit) – Medical Box. If you include your name and number, they will be kept confidential. Note that this column is for general medical questions.
We would like to thank you for your submissions. This edition, we will address the following question:
“Why is physical activity important for me?”
You have heard your health care provider tell you that physical activity is important, but how many have told you why? The short answer is that physical activity will improve your health. Since “health” is so broad, let’s look at some of the specific ways that activity is important. Physical activity will:
Lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
Make you feel more calm and happy by lowering anxiety and depression.
Help you control your weight down
Develop your muscles, bones and joints.
Help you maintain your strength and prevent falls as you get older.
You should do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week. This may mean 30 minutes straight, or a total of 30 minutes (for example, 10 minutes three times in one day). “Moderate” physical activity means that your heart may beat faster, you may sweat, your breathing may get heavier, and you should be able to carry on a conversation while you exercise whether you are walking, sweeping your cell or playing tennis on the yard.
For those who like a more intense workout (during which you are out of breath, you are covered in sweat, and your heart is beating really fast) you should be active for 20 minutes at least three days a week. It you are already exercising this much, considering increasing your routine. If you don’t currently exercise, start with just 10 minutes and do more over time.
It is important to mix up your routine, with strengthening and stretching. The next time you are out on the yard, mix up your workouts! Play basketball, do push ups, run in place, do jumping jacks, stretch, walk, play baseball, jump rope and practice yoga.
Remember that physical activity doesn’t have to be hard to do or hurt to be effective. You will feel better and live a healthier life.