This year’s dreary Pittsburgh winter (and early spring) may have kept people indoors and as a result, many may not have gotten the exercise they needed to maintain good health. Inactivity has a negative impact on health and longevity that is comparable to smoking, says Richard J. Mitchell, M.D., a board certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with St. Clair Orthopedic Associates. He adds that inactivity causes 250,000 deaths per year, independent of smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.
Dr. Mitchell is a strong advocate of exercise for people of all ages. “Everybody needs exercise for their health,” he asserts. “Exercise has tremendous benefits. It can keep you strong, improve your quality of life and help prevent chronic diseases that lead to disability and immobility.” The many benefits include improved cardiovascular health, such as reduction of high blood pressure and lowering of cholesterol levels; reduced risk of certain cancers; reduced risk of Type II diabetes and better control of blood sugar; better management of osteoarthritis; and improved mental health.
Exercise delays all causes of mortality, Dr. Mitchell says. “Inactive people have double the risk of coronary artery disease. It’s essential to heart health to get moving, and exercise is safe as long as you start slowly and are sensible about it. Those who want to start an exercise program should see their primary care physicians if they have known coronary artery disease, active cardiac disease or pulmonary disease. These people may need to have a treadmill stress test first.”
A good exercise program is consistent throughout the year and includes cardio, strength training, flexibility and neuromuscular exercise, but even simple activity is better than nothing. Walk the dog, take the stairs, or park the car far from the mall entrance.
To contact Dr. Mitchell call 412.942.7262.