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‘Exercise is medicine’: JMU researcher says it’s never too late to improve health

Crystal Graham
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It’s never too late to change your mindset when it comes to exercise, according to a James Madison University researcher.

The biggest misconception, said JMU kinesiology professor Trent Hargens, is that individuals think they “can’t do it” or are “too old for this.”

“It’s not possible for people to exercise for hours and hours during the day every day, but doing something regular most days of the week is really important,” said Hargens.  “Separate from that, individuals need to limit their sedentary time, or put simply, the time they are sitting around.

“Research has shown that, even in individuals who exercise regularly but spend a lot of time during the rest of the day sitting, their risk for chronic disease is higher than those who exercise regularly and limit their sedentary time.”

Exercise can decrease the risk for developing, or improve the status of, high-risk factors for heart related diseases.

For individuals already diagnosed with heart disease, regular exercise can decrease the risk of a heart-related event, such as a heart attack, and can increase the survivability for those with the disease.

When looking at specific areas to target, Hargens suggests that individuals combine elements of aerobic and muscle strengthening and add flexibility and balance exercises.

“There is no magic pill you can take to dramatically improve your overall health,” Hargens said. “Physical activity and exercise are the closest things you can get to that magic pill. Exercise is medicine.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.