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You may have heard the expression “Exercise is medicine” and wondered if it is true. Dr. Michael Emery explains that it is! The hardest part is getting started but Dr. Emery gives some helpful tips to get started and stick with it. Find what you enjoy doing and then find others who share in that passion to help you reach your goals.

Learn more about the Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation Section at Cleveland Clinic

Learn more about the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic

Read about Dr. Michael Emery

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Is Exercise Really Medicine?

Podcast Transcript


Welcome to Love Your Heart, brought to you by Cleveland Clinic's Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute. These podcasts will help you learn more about your heart, thoracic, and vascular systems, ways to stay healthy, and information about diseases and treatment options. Enjoy.

Michael Emery, MD:

Hello, I'm Dr. Michael Emery. I'm the co-director of the Sports Cardiology Center at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Today, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking to you about exercise. While we talk about exercise a lot, I wanted to spend a little bit more time discussing what we mean by exercise and how you, as a patient, or someone watching this video can understand how to get involved.

Michael Emery, MD:

The study that is prompting this was a recent presentation at the American College of Cardiology, showing that there is an overall improvement in cardiovascular health with exercise. But more importantly in this study, those that had underlying baseline anxiety and depression got about a twofold higher benefit from a cardiovascular standpoint than those who didn't have anxiety and depression. This research continues to confirm what we've always held a strong belief in, is that exercise is medicine. But the thing about exercise is you can't swallow it like a pill, you have to earn it. So getting up off the couch and doing something is the starting point.

Michael Emery, MD:

While our goal is to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, that's our goal. Just getting up and moving beyond what you're doing now will start to continue to improve your health while working towards that goal. And what do I mean by moderate-intensity exercise? There's often this misconception that I have to go run a marathon or a half marathon in order to have enough benefit from exercise in order to gain these effects. But that's simply not true. When we say moderate-intensity exercise, we're really referring to a brisk walk, gardening, anything that gets you active, maybe makes you a little sweaty, a little short of breath, but not so much that you can't carry on a brief conversation with someone, is the benefit that we're looking for.

Michael Emery, MD:

How do you do that? As I said, it can be any combination of things. It doesn't have to be one thing. It doesn't have to be something that you find monotonous. The goal is to find something that you enjoy that will be a lifelong endeavor for you. Whatever that is, I often believe that the secret missing sauce of a lot of exercise programs is community. Find a community that does what you like, and that community can be your support. And after a while, it's not the exercise as much, it's the community and what you as a community do together, that happens to be exercise, that gives you the most benefit both emotionally, psychologically and physically.

Michael Emery, MD:

Exercise truly is medicine. It's exercise for your mind. It's exercise for your health. It's exercise for your longevity and your wellbeing.


Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed the podcast. We welcome your comments and feedback. Please contact us at Like what you heard? Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or listen at

Love Your Heart
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Love Your Heart

A Cleveland Clinic podcast to help you learn more about heart and vascular disease and conditions affecting your chest. We explore prevention, diagnostic tests, medical and surgical treatments, new innovations and more. 

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