At the Bibb Medical Center Wellness Center, we say, “Movement is Medicine” because of all the benefits a body in motion enjoys.

Getting the heart rate up to a level where breathing is harder but one can still talk is a moderate-intensity level. At this level, the body burns calories, and the cardiovascular and respiratory systems are strengthened. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity on at least two days of the week. There is no time recommendation for muscle strengthening but rather stopping when one is unable to do more.

Increasing one’s activity to the recommendations of the AHA will open up cells that line the blood vessels called endothelial cells and release chemicals that modern medicine is made to mimic.

When a body moves during exercise, the frictional force of blood rushing past the endothelial cells causes them to squirt out nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a chemical that helps the body to monitor its blood pressure. It also causes the release of growth factor that repairs damaged blood vessels and causes them to stay slippery and smooth in order to avoid the buildup of sugar and fat along the vessel walls. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural blood pressure and coronary artery disease prevention medication.

Exercise also releases natural mental health medication. People who move briskly for 30-45 minutes three times a week have less cortisol, a hormone that causes stress, and less anxiety and depression than those who do not exercise. Exercising naturally releases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, the same chemicals drug companies put in medications used to treat depression and anxiety.

By increasing physical activity, the body will benefit from its very own natural supply of medicine, released at just the right time and in just the right dose.

Dr. William Sears of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute says, “The best exercise regime for you is the one you will do!” The BMC Wellness Center offers a vast array of exercise equipment for every activity preference. Equipment ranges from simple free weights to a large heated indoor pool.

For someone who is new to the gym experience, BMC Wellness Center has posted “tips to get you started” as well as a “workout of the day.” And for those trying out new exercise machines, there are QR codes that are linked to instructional videos that show the proper use and technique. In addition to the gym, the wellness center offers fitness classes and a wide variety of resources to help Bibb County residents develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Bess Russell is a nurse at Bibb Medical Center in Centreville.

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