The Science of Exercise

In This Section:

The Science of Exercise

Jordan Metzl, M.D.  |  May 16, 2017

In today’s news, much of the information we read about exercise is driven by the latest craze or fad in fitness and weight loss. These often confusing circumstances can be frustrating for individuals looking to make true lifestyle changes that improve their health. As a physician, I have witnessed many clients struggle to sort through the “noise,” so I was honored when approached to write the introduction for a special edition of TIME Magazine titled “The Science of Exercise.” TIME engaged a variety of subject matter experts to bring its readers science-backed fitness and exercise information that will help them make informed choices about their physical activity. As a nod to ACSM’s position as the global authority in this space, several of my ACSM colleagues also contributed to this issue, including Jack Berryman, FACSM, Steven Blair, 40th President of the American College of Sports Medicine (1996-97), Anthony Hackney, FACSM, and Pamela Peeke, FACSM. The issue also references ACSM’s exercise recommendations and cites ACSM’s journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

I have seen numerous patients meet and exceed their health goals through exercise, and I am a true supporter of Exercise Is Medicine®, a global health initiative managed by ACSM. The benefits of physical activity on health have been proven time and time again, both in the research lab and the gym. I’d encourage each of you to pick up an issue of this outstanding TIME Magazine publication about exercise, the miracle drug. Here’s a preview of my article:

Thankfully, you don’t need to take mega-doses of this drug [exercise] to get the benefits. A little bit goes a long way. 

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week— just about 30 minutes, five days a week. More is better, but this seems to be the sweet spot. Anything from brisk walking to jogging to hightailing it up the stairs counts. And the harder you’re willing to push yourself, the less time you’ll have to commit to enduring it. 

If I had my way, medicine’s four core vital signs — temperature, pulse, blood pressure and respiration rate — would be joined by a fifth: step count, with a goal of 10,000 per day. It should be part of every standard medical chart, right alongside height and weight.

Don’t forget that May is Exercise is Medicine Month- download the toolkit today and help make a difference in your community. I hope to see you all in Denver at the ACSM Annual Meeting, where I will be presenting on a physician-led fitness community called the IronStrength Community Fitness Program that I lead in New York.

Viewpoints presented on the ACSM blog reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM. 

Jordan Metzl, M.D., is a 19-year member of ACSM and a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He is pioneering a bridge between the medical and fitness communities by leading the first physician-led fitness program that he calls the IronStrength Community program. 

In addition to his medical practices in New York City and Stamford, Connecticut, Dr. Metzl is the author of six books, including the bestselling titles Running Strong, The Exercise Cure and Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies. Dr. Metzl is also the medical columnist for
 Triathlete Magazine.