Why To Exercise Today: For Medicine — As Libido Boost, Anxiety Fix

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exercisehappinessMaybe you're one of those people compelled to run the Boston Marathon next year, but that's a long way off. How about a mini-"Boston Strong" jog right now? It's beautiful outside and here, in a report by ABC News, are seven health problems eased by exercise, including decreased sex drive, back pain, anxiety, insomnia, food cravings and hot flashes.

Here's some of the report on exercise as medicine:

"When it comes to preventing health problems, exercise is one of the best medicines we have," says David Katz, MD, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. But some workouts are better than others for healing what ails you...

Low Sex Drive
Look no further than your local gym: In a Journal of Sexual Medicine study, women who hit the treadmill for 20 minutes were more physiologically aroused while viewing an erotic video than the group that didn't work out.

"Exercise increases circulation to every area of your body," explains ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck, MD, co-author of V Is for Vagina, and that makes us more game for bedroom action.

Mentally, regular workouts may help us get over body hang-ups, she adds. And the feel-good endorphins released during exercise can bust through fatigue or stress that drags down sex drive. (Having increased stamina won't hurt, either.)

Your fitness Rx: Add workouts that get your heart pumping and put you in touch with your body, like Latin dance or Zumba. Dr. Dweck also recommends yoga positions that increase blood flow to the pelvic area....

Back Pain
The supporting muscles around your spine become less resilient with age; sitting hunched over a computer all day weakens them further. But the new thinking is that rest isn't usually the answer. "Research has shown that a better fix, in most patients, is strength training," advises Wayne Westcott, PhD, an exercise scientist at Quincy College in Massachusetts. "It can lessen pain by 30 to 80 percent in 10 to 12 weeks."

Developing your lower-back, abdominal and oblique muscles takes pressure off your spine and improves range of motion, both preventing and treating pain.

Your fitness Rx: Two or three days a week of strength-training exercises, focusing on major muscle groups (try the chest press, leg press and seated row) and lower-back and ab work (the lower-back-and-ab machine). Aim for 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 16 reps each.

Personally, I use exercise as my own personal antidepressant, and it generally works. Readers, how do you use exercise as medicine and what's most effective? Let us know.

This program aired on April 26, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.