Exercise vs ADL (Activities of Daily Living)

Numerous patients during their follow-up visits confuse daily exercise with activities of daily living. When asked what kind of exercise they partake in, many of my patient’s answers vary from walking the dog to collecting the mail at the top of their one hundred foot driveway. While walking is a great form of exercise, it does not present an ample form of exercise to lead the human body into exertion. Exercise plays a very important role in the weight loss process and having a well-structured exercise program a few months after surgery will promote great rewards for our patients.

The goal of exercise is to help shed the unwanted pounds and reach the targeted goal weight, reduce the likelihood of regaining the weight lost, as well as reduce the comorbidities that plagued many morbid obese patients before surgery such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Activities of Daily Living or ADL are defined as activities done on regular basis, might include washing the car, cleaning the house, and gardening. However, it does not count as exercise that would exert the human body. Patients should seek a structured exercise program to further accelerate their weight loss goals and to allow them to become accustomed with getting their bodies’ acclimated to consistent movement.

Many patients often ask me what classifies as a good well-structured exercise program. My answer is this; any program tailored to the patient’s lifestyle and physical capabilities. Whichever activity you choose to incorporate into your program should get you up to a targeted heart rate of at least 120 beats per minute (bpm). You should strive to be able to keep up this level of intensity for 30-45 minutes. Many patients cannot achieve this early on and often get discouraged, frustrated and do an easier form of exercise and fail to challenge themselves. If you’re simply working out for 1 hour and not sweating, becoming fatigued or out of breath, then you’re wasting an hour of your time. It is better to exert yourself and reach that targeted heart rate and sustain it for 5-10 minutes three times a week. If you’re able to do this, over time your endurance will build and you will be able to reach a goal of 30-45 minutes before you know it.

Our lives are bombarded with many responsibilities from family to jobs and everything else in between so at the end of our long busy days, exercise is the last thing we choose to participate in when the day ends. However, this behavior is the reason many of us are unable to reach our weight loss and fitness goals: everything in our lives, work, children and extended family takes precedence over our health.

Let’s now focus on the six benefits of exercise and how we can incorporate structured exercise with activities of daily living, enabling a decent balance between both. The first benefit of exercise is weight loss by burning a number of calories over a period of time. The more intense the workout, the more calories are burned. The recommended amount of time to exercise per day is 30minutes of exercise for at least five days a week. However with our busy lives consuming the bulk of our schedules, staying focused on a structured plan can be cumbersome. This is when activities of daily living can be incorporated into our daily routine. Instead of taking the elevator, try taking the stairs or park the car farther away from the entrance of the grocery store which will help in getting more steps into a walking program.

The second benefit of exercise is its ability to combat numerous health issues ranging from cardiovascular diseases to depression. Physical activity allows the blood to flow vigorously through arteries and veins, thus decreasing plaque build-up and cardiovascular disease. Incorporating activities of daily living and exercise into your everyday schedule can also help lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression and arthritis. The third benefit of exercise is improvement is mood. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain which are known producing the so-called “runner’s high”. Being able to release tension and stress through exercise can boost self-esteem and confidence as your appearance begins to change through exercise.

The fourth benefit of exercise is the boost to energy caused by the efficiency of oxygen consumption throughout the body. With the heart and lungs working in sync, it allows the body to have better blood flow for smoother energy restoration to both muscles and tissues. Regular exercise can also help with physical endurance and muscle strength. Incorporating weights to any exercise routine allows the muscles and bones to become stronger.

The fifth benefit of exercise is promoting better sleep. With daily exercise along with activities of daily living, the body becomes stress free and when the human body becomes stress free it allows for relaxed state of mind. A relaxed mind will gain the full benefits of sleep such as proper immune and memory function and helps to repair the body and muscles. Therefore the importance of getting some form of exercise into your daily life will enable the body to perform and function better.

The sixth benefit of exercise is the promotion of a healthier sex life. Regular physical activity can build the arousal of both men and women. Men who exercised regularly had fewer problems with erectile dysfunction as opposed to men who didn’t exercise regularly. Exercise promotes healthier sex and reproductive organs allowing for efficient blow flow.

Exercise is very important and has numerous health benefits that will aid in good long term health. The point is to get the body moving for at least an intense 30 minutes; this has shown to have greater benefits than simple everyday activities alone. Studies have shown that even short burst of physical activity have been linked to a decrease in obesity and the underlying health issues associated with obesity. The importance of keeping the body active even for a short intense period of time can be more beneficial when the heart rate accelerates and breathing becomes ragged. Both crucial moves that aid in the fat and calorie burning process, aiding in glorious weight loss.

Michel Gunn

Michel Gunn