Exercise is the best medicine!


Have you ever been asked to do something and been caught completely off guard? Despite knowing that physical fitness improves health and makes us feel better, many people in my exam rooms look at me quizzically when we discuss exercise. There was sometimes disbelief in their eyes or sometimes a deer-in-the-headlights type of fear. “Who, me? In the gym?”

Some people would come in year after year and have the same goals: I need to get started with exercise this year. But a quick look back through the chart would reveal that we had discussed the exact goals, “I’ll start work-out classes, or I will get to the gym,” the year before. What was the barrier to getting started?

Then a few years ago, I had the humbling experience of finding myself in their shoes. After an all-day drive to a family vacation, I couldn’t stand up straight. My husband’s concerned question on the drive home hit me at my core. “How can you be a doctor, telling everyone else to exercise when you are not getting to the gym yourself? Don’t you want to hang out with me when we get old and go hiking? Don’t you want to go explore the world with me before we get old?” He was right of course, not to mention that I would feel better if I were stronger and working out regularly.

Out of shape and many years away from vigorous exercise, I tried classes at my local gym and found that I couldn’t handle most of them. Not only that, but I no longer felt comfortable in the gym. Once a college athlete, I stood tentatively in the gym and didn’t know where to start. Most embarrassing, I couldn’t even begin to squat. I mean that I couldn’t get more than a quarter of the way down!  When had things gotten so bad?

Inspired by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg working out at age 85, and reading about her transformation from debilitating cancer recovery (twice) to doing planks and pushups, I determined to work step by step to reclaim my movement. Slowly, with the help of a trainer and my husband, who has the fortitude to set the alarm at o-dark-thirty, things have slowly improved over the last two years.

Newly identified with my patients’ needs at the beginning of my own recovery, I asked three physical therapists from Movement-X to design a class for my patients that would enable them to regain their ability and mobility as well. Their own passion for movement and experience working with older adults made them perfectly suited for the job, and they took it on with vigor and joy! Our patients joined doctors and staff from NVFP and learned to get fit together and loved it! The testimonials speak volumes, so please check out the AgeProof Your Body website! The patients love the program and the community. Quarantine has inspired us to provide this same service online, so we can keep up fitness while remaining safe at home.

Come get fit with us!

Natasha W. Lewry Beauvais, MD, MPH

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