"We Are What We Do" by Tim Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

Living well and living long are two different things. and one of the country's leading preventive health researchers, Dr. Tim Church, states it plain and simple—maintaining a high quality of life means finding time for physical activity.

Dr. Tim Church, Holmes Murphy & Associates  / ACAP Health Medical Director on exercising your right to a better quality of life  

One of the things I've really learned in medicine is that there are certain things that resonate with us that we believe in, with or without data – it just must be true. And the idea of, 'we are what we eat,' it is amazing to me how people hold onto that. People have a hard time getting their arms around, 'we are what we do.'

As a physician, through med school, through residency, I just got frustrated with treating things that were 100 percent preventable. And, you know, I love to say we like to heroically clean up after the car accident, but we don't like to put up stop signs. And, I just was always drawn towards prevention and then in my prevention quest so to speak, physical activity and exercise just made so much sense. It didn't matter what the analysis was. It didn't matter what we were looking at. There was always this one variable that was so powerful. It was exercise.

When it comes to weight loss one of my favorite sayings is: you diet to lose weight, and you exercise to keep it off. It doesn't matter what the macronutrient components of that diet are. You can focus on low carbs. You can focus on low protein. You can focus on low fat. It doesn't really matter. It tends to be an individual thing.

But, once you get the weight off, exercise becomes so critical in keeping it off. It's not hard to lose weight. It's very easy to lose weight, that's why all the fad diets work. That's why all this bogus stuff works. The challenge is keeping the weight off, keeping it off at six months, keeping it off at 12 months, keeping it off at two years.

Everything counts. If you're doing nothing now, this is not all or nothing, this is not about, 'hey if you don't get to 150 minutes a week, then it's a waste of time.' Just getting off the couch has benefits. In fact, the most sedentary individuals who have the worst health are the ones that benefit the most from a little bit of physical activity. The return on investment for a little bit of physical activity is huge for those guys. The person who's running a 10K all the time and ramps it up to a marathon. They don't get any more benefit when they go from 10K to marathon, they've already kind of maxed out. But that person who's totally sedentary and takes up a walking program? Huge benefits.

It's not about how long you're gonna live. How long you're gonna live is primarily determined by how long your grandparents lived, how long your parents lived. It's about how long you live well. Can you go duck hunting in your 80s? Can you chase your grandkids? You know, can you do the things that you love doing? And there's no pill for that. We can't go to the doctor and get a pill for quality of life. There's one thing we know that works for maintaining quality of life. And that is being physically active. That is leading an active lifestyle which may or may not include formal exercise. So, you want to lead the life you want to lead? You've got to be physically active.

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