How to Fix Health Problems with Exercise

“When it comes to preventing health problems, exercise is one of the best medicines we have,” says Dr. David Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.


  • A proven way to ease anxiety naturally is with a bout of cardio, says Michael Otto, co-author of “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety.” Getting your heart pumping increases the release of mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters, like serotonin, norepinephrine and GABA, which is why you can feel like you’re sweating off stress during Spinning class.
  • The good vibes continue: A study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (jogging, not sprinting) makes you more resilient against stressors hours later, like preparing for that big meeting with your boss.
  • And over the long term, “people who work out consistently report less overall stress, anxiety and depression,” Otto says.
  • Your fitness Rx: Do a quick blast of cardio on the morning of a hectic day, or to unwind at the end of one. If possible, take it outside — numerous studies show that fresh air provides a big mood boost.

Back Pain

  • The supporting muscles around your spine become less resilient with age; sitting hunched over a computer all day weakens them further. But the new thinking is that rest isn’t usually the answer.

  • “Research has shown that a better fix, in most patients, is strength training,” advises Wayne Westcott, an exercise scientist at Quincy College in Massachusetts. “It can lessen pain by 30 to 80% in 10 to 12 weeks.”

  • Developing your lower-back, abdominal and oblique muscles takes pressure off your spine and improves range of motion, both preventing and treating pain.

  • Your fitness Rx: Two or three days a week of strength-training exercises, focusing on major muscle groups (try the chest press, leg press and seated row) and lower-back and ab work (the lower-back-and-ab machine). Aim for two to four sets of eight to 16 reps each.

Low Sex Drive

  • Look no further than your local gym: In a Journal of Sexual Medicine study, women who hit the treadmill for 20 minutes were more physiologically aroused while viewing an erotic video than the group that didn’t work out.

  • “Exercise increases circulation to every area of your body,” explains ob-gyn Dr. Alyssa Dweck, co-author of “V Is for Vagina,” and that makes us more game for bedroom action.

  • Mentally, regular workouts may help us get over body hang-ups, she adds. And the feel-good endorphins released during exercise can bust through fatigue or stress that drags down sex drive. (Having increased stamina won’t hurt, either.)

  • Your fitness Rx: Add workouts that get your heart pumping and put you in touch with your body, like Latin dance or Zumba. Dweck also recommends yoga positions that increase blood flow to the pelvic area.

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