The Most Beneficial Medication
By Mark Mercure, Pharmacist/Owner
Home Health Care Pharmacy
In the past, we’ve encouraged readers of this blog to improve their overall health by adopting lifestyle habits such as healthy eating and getting adequate sleep. Continuing on this healthy living path requires the discussion of what I call “the most beneficial medication there is.”
It is physical activity.
Wait, don’t stop reading!
I know you were hoping for the pharmacist to recommend something in pill form, but this isn’t something you should overlook. Exercise is very powerful, ESPECIALLY for older adults.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the benefits of physical activity for older adults are many:
- Improves balance and mobility
- Reduces falls and injuries
- Helps you stay independent longer
- Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and premature death
- Reduces symptoms of depression & anxiety
Now, re-read that short list again and ask yourself this question: If my doctor prescribed me a pill with all those benefits (and no scary side effects), what would I be willing to pay for that pill?
“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”
-Robert Butler, National Institute on Aging
Luckily, being active does not require a prescription and comes with almost no costs.
Exercise can take many forms. Look for something that challenges you and that you find enjoyable. For older adults, the most common and enjoyable forms of physical activity by far are gardening, walking, and yard work. Unfortunately, one-in-three men, and one-in-two women aged 75 or older get NO physical activity at all. If you are already active, encourage a friend to join you in your exercise routine and you will both benefit from the physical and socials benefits.
Don’t start an exercise program so aggressively that you risk injury or won’t be able to sustain the habit. Seniors can follow Canada’s physical activity guidelines for adults over 65.
If you would benefit from having someone to share your exercise progress with, I would be happy to cheer you on! Contact me here and I will be glad to support your use of “The most beneficial medication there is.”
If you’re inspired but not sure of where to start, here are a few helpful links to follow.
Mark Mercure is certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in Geriatric Pharmacy and is the owner/manager of Home Health Care Pharmacy. He specializes in providing comprehensive medication reviews which help patients optimize medication use and avoid drug-related issues.