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Health & Sports Medicine: Dr. Conway’s Guide to a Healthy and Active Summer


We often hear that exercise is good for us. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has developed a program dedicated to the belief that “Exercise is Medicine,” and studies show that regular exercise leads to a multitude of health benefits, including reducing risk of diabetes and heart attack, lowering blood pressure, and even increasing longevity. Beyond strictly physical benefits, staying active can also improve mind-body awareness, reduce stress, and lead to deeper connections with our communities and with nature.

Although few would argue with the advice to get more exercise, in reality there are layers of systemic and personal obstacles that can make it difficult to cultivate a habit of regular physical activity. Thankfully, with summer approaching and warmer weather finally here, being active can take a variety of different forms – and does not necessarily require a gym membership.  Exercise includes taking a walk with family or friends, gardening, dancing, canoeing or kayaking.  Making time to exercise may entail seeking short bouts of a variety of activities that add up across days and weeks, like taking 10 minute breaks during any period of prolonged sitting to walk the stairs. Whichever mode of activity you choose, below are some tips to help prepare for a healthy and active summer.

How Much Should You Exercise?

The ACSM recommends a goal of at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This goal can be accomplished in longer sessions or broken up into 10 minutes sessions with similar benefits.  Strength, balance and flexibility training is also recommended 2-3 times a week. Depending on your current level of activity this may or may not seem like a lot. The good news is that any amount of exercise can be beneficial. 

How to Ramp Up for Exercising

Whether you’re currently exercising daily or not exercising at all, a gradual increase in activity reduces risk of injury. A general guideline to follow is no more than 10% increase in exercise duration and intensity per week. Additionally, core and lower body strengthening exercises are key to maintaining a healthy foundation for the rest of the body. Examples of these exercises include bridges, planks, lunges and wall squats.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Exercise, even when ramped up gradually, can sometimes unmask serious health problems that require medical attention. Anyone experiencing chest pains, palpitations, dizziness, and/or passing out during exercise should be evaluated by a medical profession prior to resuming exercise. Individuals with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease at a young age should receive medical clearance prior to starting a new exercise program.

Justin Conway, MD earned his Medical Degree from the University of Michigan Medical School and completed his Residency at Mount Sinai-Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He is board certified in Sports Medicine and Family Medicine and completed his Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Conway is seeing patients at Crystal Run’s Monroe and Newburgh Locations.