Using Exercise to Balance Out a Healthy Lifestyle

Taking the first step in your health goals means being active

story title image

Heading to the doctor’s office soon? You might want to think about taking a walk first.

No matter what your doctor’s appointment is all about, there’s a good chance that your doctor is going to want to know if you are exercising — and if so, how much.

“I bring up the subject with every patient,” says Dr. Sean Ryan of Heritage Medical Associates. “If they are exercising, I try to find out how much so I can get a sense of their routine. And if they are not, I want to know why not.”

Dr. Ryan stresses that he meets patients where they are in this regard, adding that no matter how active or inactive they are, he will have some recommendations.

“I tell people to get 30 minutes a day, and they can do that in 5-minute increments if they want to,” he says. “Work up to that 30 minutes; just get in the habit of moving. And once you are doing that, try to do it a few days a week until you are doing something every single day.”

Customized Approach

Some people may want to go to a fitness center, or the YMCA, in order to have lots of options. Others may just want to take a walk around the neighborhood. Both are fine, Dr. Ryan says.

“It really depends on how motivated someone is,” he explains. “If they want to spend the money on a membership, then they can have access to treadmills, classes and more. But a walk is good too, and those are free. The goal is to just get moving.”

If pain and mobility are issues, he recommends finding a local pool and either taking classes there, or just walking around in the water.

“You don’t have to swim; you can just move around and let the water support you,” he says. “And if they do have classes, they can help you get the most out of the pool.”

Easy Does It

While he’s an advocate for daily exercise, Dr. Ryan also wants to make sure that no one rushes into an injury.

“I tell people two things: start gradually, and build up to anything,” he says. “Even if they are young and healthy, it’s not a good idea to plan on running a marathon in four months. The goal is to do 30 minutes a day, and build up to one hour over the course of several weeks if you can. Build that base first so you don’t get injured and then have an even harder time.”

As a way to seal the deal, Dr. Ryan also makes sure that his patients know the benefits of exercise above and beyond weight loss.

“I tell them to look at all the benefits,” he says. “Exercise adds to healthier living. You can reduce things like cholesterol and blood pressure, so you live healthier. You improve your mobility and flexibility as well, so in addition to living healthier and longer, you have a better quality of life.”

Want more information? Call MissionPoint Health Partners at 855-288-6747 or email us at to learn how a Health Partner can work with you to improve your health.