I heard a recent piece on NPR that was fascinating, but one quick drop-quote came out of it that made me rejoice. When the guest, David Linden, Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and former chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology, was asked what the best way to stave off the effects of aging on memory and cognition is, he replied,
“If there is a single thing to do for your brain health, it is to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.”
Boom! There it is again. Exercise wins the award as the best cure and preventor ever. As rehab professionals, we should be shouting this from the roof tops. It seems every month, a new journal article comes out that demonstrates skilled therapy as a rival solution to surgery for muskuloskeletal injuries. These articles come out and show that with a little patience, therapy can give a patient the same or better results in the long-run. Conditions that come to mind in recent studies: Meniscal tears, rotator cuff tears, almost every kind of back pain. Other than the obvious benefits of a person not needing to be sedated or cut into, there’s typically tens-of-thousands of dollars in cost savings. I was at a lecture several years ago where the presenter made a great point that I have thought of frequently ever since. He pointed out that companies and institutions are pouring huge amounts of money into a deadly disease to find a cure that already exists for 90% of its victims. The disease is diabetes, and the cure is exercise. Genius!
These must be our messages to payers, policy makers, and referrers: We cure and prevent a multitude of conditions, we save a boat-load of money on every case, and patients are better able to care for themselves after seeing us. Man, who wouldn’t invest in that product!? I digress.
Here’s some links below to the NPR piece that got me going on this brief tirade. Really interesting piece on the sensation of touch and how it connects with our brains. If you’ve got the time, listen to the whole thing. If not, just skip to the last two minutes (the 34 minute mark) where he talks about physical exercise as the ultimate brain exercise!