My mother is participating in a lung clinic with Vancouver Coastal Heath, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that half of the time is spent on exercise. All of the people in her group have chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and COPD. She remarked that the few who complained of pain and difficulty during the first week are now stating how much better they feel, only a couple weeks later. Her classes are three times a week, for a couple hours – with education included in the session.

Personally I have a great pair of lungs, due to being in shape for most of my life. However I have suffered from mental illness in the past. During my darkest time, exercise was a major contributor (specifically running, hiking, and weight training) to my recovery.

I worked as a hospital nurse for a few years and I remember charting that half the patients I saw were out of shape. Exercise wasn’t a priority in their life and it seemed they were really suffering because of it. I feel like our health care system is not focused enough on prevention, rather it’s focused on treatment when health issues become acute.

So why aren’t we taking the benefits of physical exercise more seriously? Why is it merely recommended and encouraged? Why is my mother finally starting to exercise three times a week now that she has lung issues? And if it was enough for her family (me) to insist she exercises, to motivate her to start, then I wouldn’t be writing this. For many reasons, it can be hard for people to take advice from friends and family. But if it comes from a professional, say your family doctor, then people tend to take it more seriously. Which is why I’m asking our health care system and the community: why we aren’t being sent home with a prescription for exercise along with our antibiotics?

*If you don’t exercise regularly, or are unaware of the benefits of exercise, please take a few seconds to read this information: