A health center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood has implemented a new program that helps patients access a gym membership for just $10 a month. Instead of focusing solely on prescribing drugs, tests and physicals, internists and psychologists now have the free will to prescribe exercise. The $10 a month gym memberships also include aerobics classes, kids’ programs and childcare, making it more convenient for patients to get moving.
Healthworks Community Fitness is a nonprofit gym in Dorchester. The gym gives low-income residents an extremely affordable way to get moving and access some of the best exercise equipment. Doctors are now prescribing gym access to help these low-income residents recover from chronic health problems. 70 percent of the people who go to Healthworks community Fitness have been prescribed exercise for their obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or depression.
After more than two years of regular workouts, area resident Monisha Long says she is getting extraordinary results. “I lost well over 150 pounds, and I’ve been keeping it off for the past couple of years.”
“I’m more energized,” Long says. “As far as my energy, I feel like I’m stronger. I feel like I’m less tired. I feel like I can do almost anything now.”
Dr. Edward Phillips, a Boston physician who now prescribes exercise, says, “Our bodies are meant to move. Integrating movement into our day allows the system to work optimally. Part of the system that needs to work is our brain, and includes sleep, mood, cognition, ability to concentrate.”
An object in motion tends to stay in motion
One of the universal laws observed by physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, stated that an object at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it. Additionally, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Apathy and passion are two forces that carry out those same roles in the human body. The less we care, the more apathetic we become. With no forward movement in our life, stagnation sets in, making it harder and harder to move from our helpless, docile state. On the other hand, finding passion for something can be a momentous force that can make our energy “snowball.” As our energy builds and crescendos, our forward motion becomes hard to stop.
Exercise can work in the same way. By simply starting and getting the ball moving, a person creates a platform from which they can launch and build momentum. The key is to get the ball moving, to start the motion, so momentum can be created. This takes focus and commitment at first, but as the motion becomes second nature, it becomes easier to be that object that Newton describes as tending “to stay in motion.”
The New Living Translation of Matthew 25:29 of the American Bible sums up this phenomenon well, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” Perhaps this passage can help us understand that if we do nothing with what we already have, we will lose it (including our health), but if we efficiently utilize, fully appreciate, and put to work what we have, momentum is welcomed into our lives, pushing us toward a more fulfilling (and healthy) life.
Health professionals are starting to see how these simple universal truths can be applied in the field of medicine. More doctors are starting to prescribe exercise over drugs, because exercise works to encourage forward movement, encouraging the movement of blood and the inner cooperation of organs. Exercise helps us to exit a revolving state of stagnation, encouraging the organs to work together and detoxify the body. A person in motion tends to stay in motion, and the health benefits are remarkable.