by Dr. Iain Corness
Healthy exercise - Does that include sexercise?
I was asked the other day if I
exercised regularly. The person who asked the question was quite taken aback
when I said that I did not do any formal regular exercise. “So how do you
stay slim?” was the next question.
Probably the commonest advice a doctor gives is to lose weight and do some
exercise. Does that ring a bell in your memory? Was that part of the advice
after your annual physical check-up?
Unfortunately, there seems to be very little real understanding of what
exercise should consist of, how often, what type, how long and what about
sex? I was reading an article on exercise the other day and it said
authoritatively that one should wear comfortable clothing and socks with the
correct size of non-slippery, shock-absorbing shoes. If this includes
sexercise, there are some strange shoe fetishes out there!
However, getting a little serious, a little exercise will be good for you,
provided that you pick a form of exercise that is not harmful for you! Now I
know that looks as if I have put my money on both horses in the race, but
take that sentence at its face value. Enough research has been done to show
that regular exercise is beneficial for everybody, in both the physical and
psychological aspects, but, and it is a big ‘but’, all forms of exercise
have relative bodily risks, and this has to be taken into account before you
buy a pair of expensive jogging shoes and tackle a 10 km trot in the middle
of the day. True stories - a medical colleague in Australia took up playing
squash when he turned 50 and dropped dead on the court of a heart attack,
and another acquaintance of mine turned 40, decided he wasn’t fit, bought a
bicycle to ride to work each day and was run over by a bus.
The same article that advised non-slippery shoes, did have some wise words
however. These included to choose appropriate exercise according to your
ability. Never exceed your limit. Remember that it is not the harder the
better. If you have acute medical problems (such as fever, or pain), stop
exercising. Running with pain is silly. If you have chronic medical
conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease and
arthritis), seek advice from your doctor beforehand. All of these I agree
with. If you are happy to take your body to your medical advisor when it is
sick, take it back to your doctor for advice on how to tone it up as well.
The other words of wisdom suggested that for prolonged exercise such as
hiking, continually drink water to supplement the loss of body fluid due to
sweating. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Take appropriate breaks during
exercise. Do not over-exert yourself. Forget about “powering through the
pain barrier”. Leave that for Olympic cyclists high on this month’s
As well as the form of exercise, there is the frequency. At least three
times per week, 20-30 minutes (or more) is necessary each time, to derive
the maximum benefit. And always remember, if there is dizziness, fainting,
shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, nausea or severe pain during
exercise, stop exercising immediately and seek medical advice as soon as
Now I did mention at the start of this week’s article, the word “sexercise”,
and some of you have been impatiently reading, while nervously fiddling with
your expensive packet of Viagras, Kanagras, Cialis and other
lead-in-your-pencil medications (I draw the line at tiger willy). OK, what
about sex? The advisability of this form of exercise when you have some
chronic complaint (such as hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease
etc), should be part of the advice you get from your doctor beforehand. The
danger of over the counter willy stiffeners is that you don’t get advice
Finally, the learned article did say “Exercise with friends. Company
provides enjoyment, mutual encouragement and support.” That goes for
And how do I stay slim? I walk several kilometers around the hospital every
day, I walk to the doctor’s rooms to ask questions, rather than telephoning,
and generally make sure I remain active. So far, it’s working!
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