Thursday, June 2, 2005
Good eating and exercise are worth the time they take

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

The beneficial effects of diet and exercise for heart disease have been known for a long time. Everyone agrees with that. The problem is finding the time, effort and energy to do it. Recent medical studies have shown similar benefits in prevention of cancer. Individuals with a family history of cancer now also have a reason to watch their diet and exercise more often. The problem is still finding the time, effort and energy to do it. Unfortunately, most people discover the need to pay attention to these things after their heart attack or after the diagnosis of cancer. Even then the change in habits is often short-lived. Time is often the first issue. Our days have become filled with things to do. We are staying at work late. We are running from here to there. What we need to do is look for ways to exercise in combination with other things we do. That might mean doing calisthenics while watching the TV news. It might mean climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator. Often the wait for the elevator takes longer than the walk up the stairs. There are opportunities for this. We just need to look for them.
The same kind of thing can be looked at for diet. We often eat incorrectly because we are in a hurry. Getting fast food has become the norm rather than the exception. Eating while watching TV is a known cause of obesity. Drinking regular soda instead of diet soda can add 26 pounds annually. All of these things are things that can be changed without adding time to an already busy day. Both diet and exercise require a commitment to doing things right. The effort involved in doing this is often the biggest stumbling block. There needs to be a commitment to do it right. There needs to be the necessary knowledge as to how to do it right. It is not an easy plan to create. However, it is no different from many of the other plans that we commit to. At work we have a job to get done and we do it. We belong to community organizations, which require commitment on our part. We arrange to do that as well. There needs to be an underlying desire to recognize the long-term benefits of such a change. Some individuals just feel too tired by what they do every day to think that they have the needed energy to pay attention to diet and exercise. Of interest is the fact that an incorrect diet will drain you of the proper nutrients. The result will be a sense of lack of energy. In actuality, it is likely nothing more than the wrong combination of nutrients. For the same reason, people feel that they are too tired to exercise. In actuality, the chemicals that the body produces when you exercise give you a sense of energy that you might not have if you did not exercise to begin with. While diet and exercise may seem to take too much time, effort and energy, that is not really the case. Those are simply excuses for not getting around to doing the right thing for our bodies in the long run.