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Safely add physical activity to achieve the healthiest, happiest, and most resilient you

Friends holding weight scale.

Wellness plans and therapeutic lifestyle changes are often implemented to prevent and reduce the effects of chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Wellness interventions focus on the following 4 key tenets: healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing activity, and avoiding tobacco use.  Don't forget that tobacco abuse and obesity are the number 1 and number 2 causes of preventable death respectively.  

Healthy eating and increasing physical activity are the foundation of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. You typically cannot exercise yourself skinny, so healthier eating, meaning more nutrient dense foods and proper portion sizes, is responsible for the majority of weight that is lost. As you get closer to your ideal weight, exercise and burning more calories becomes much more important. As simple as the idea may seem, most people are not be able to develop and implement a personalized exercise plan that is safe and comprehensive. This is true even for those who have been working out for some time. 

A formal exercise program has several components that include medical clearance if needed based on your age, presence of physical symptoms, and medical history, a pre-exercise physical assessment to determine your current level of fitness and aid in goal setting, an exercise schedule that details the focus of your workout and the types of exercise, a place to exercise where you feel comfortable and confident, an exercise log to keep track of your workouts and progress, and a means of accountability to ensure that you adhere to your exercise program and remain steadfast throughout your wellness journey. 

Evidence-based guidelines and best practices have determined that you should exercise at least 150 minutes per week with strength training of all major muscle groups at least twice per week. So, just swimming, or just running, or just playing tennis is not adequate exercise. Remember that you must invest in your health and that your investment pays out over time with increased quality and quantity of life. Don't be overwhelmed with the 150 minutes. Start by exercising for 15 minutes, twice per week and add 30-minutes every month until you're at 150 minutes per week.

With so many different exercise programs it can be very difficult for you to choose one. Many programs are meant for high level athletes or offer little supervision that can result in a high rate of injury if you are a novice or less seasoned. An extra layer of assistance can be added to prevent this type of problem and ensure your exercise plan is developed and executed properly. This extra layer of assistance is called a personal trainer, or coach, and everyone can benefit from hiring one. The right trainer can place you on the fast track to achieving your health and fitness goals while avoiding injury and set-back. 

Sean Bannister, PA-C Sean Bannister, PA-C Sean is a Physician Assistant and a retired US Army officer with over 30 years of clinical medicine and leadership experience. He earned his Master of Business Administration degree from The George Washington University and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center with an emphasis on Family, Cardiovascular, and Thoracic medicine. He also has over 15-years experience as a cardiovascular surgery PA and certifications as a health coach and personal fitness trainer. While in the military Sean served as the senior healthcare provider and administrator for multiple medical and urgent care clinics and was the director of a military Physician Assistant Training Program. He has performed duties as an Emergency Medicine and Trauma Physician Assistant in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Sean has also served as the director of workplace wellness programs, weight loss programs, and preventive health initiatives to keep people healthier, happier, and more productive.

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