23 and 1/2 hours: What is the Single Best Thing We Can Do for our Health?


23 and 1/2 hours: What is the Single Best Thing We Can Do for our Health?


By: Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS, OCS, Lakeshore Sports Physical Therapy

I would like to invite you to stop thinking of exercise as work.

Instead, think of exercise as the medication prescribed as the treatment of choice for knee arthritis (capable of decreasing pain and disability by 47%), slowing the progression of diabetes, osteoporosis (capable to decreasing risk of hip fracture by 41%), anxiety, and depression.

Dr. Mike Evans has created a simple yet entertaining whiteboard presentation on the effects of exercise on your health entitled 23 ½ Hours. He cites research by Dr. Steven Blair from the University of South Carolina that revealed low fitness as the number one predictor of death –easily beating out smoking, obesity and diabetes!

So is it time to sign up for the Chicago Marathon? The best thing about “exercise as medicine” is that you do not have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits and decrease your risk of death.

Health benefits are realized at varying levels of exercise, but simply putting on a pair of comfortable shoes and taking a 30-minute walk five days a week is enough to reap the rewards of this powerful drug! You can break your exercise prescription into varying “doses” in order to manage the side effects of working up a sweat, but aim for 150 minutes a week total. Just like your blood pressure or allergy medication, you must take it regularly in order to gain the benefit and decrease your health risk factors.

Imagine where the health of our society would be if we treated exercise as having the same potency as medications! Why are we so ready to pop a pill instead of taking a walk at lunch or taking the stairs instead of the elevator? Do not allow an old injury to hold you back from accessing exercise as medicine. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist to determine which interventions are available to help you access this lifesaving medication.

Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS, OCS, founded Lakeshore Sports Physical Therapy in 2000 and is the clinic president and director. She is board certified in orthopedic physical therapy and a credentialed clinical instructor for physical therapists in training. Angela has served on several professional boards and is currently the managing editor for IMPACT, the magazine of the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. Contact Angela directly: awp@lakeshoresportspt.com.