How to use exercise as medicine

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You have probably heard many times about the benefits of exercise for improving your health and even reversing many existing health conditions. Food is information for our body, and exercise is a medicine for both healing and prevention. Understanding how to use this can be hugely beneficial, whatever you want to improve.

We all know that the only thing that we can really control is what we are doing on a daily basis. We are responsible for taking care of our body and mind, and I don’t need to tell you that doing regular activity is helpful for both. But do you know how to use exercise as medicine? If you have any health issues then likely your doctor will give you medication and hopefully tell you detailed and clear instructions on how and how long you need to take it. Imagine now that your doctor, instead of giving medication, were to tell you which exercise you need to do, how long you need to do it for, how high or low the intensity should be, and even explain the correct form too. This would be my dream, at least for most health conditions! Here are some examples of how you can effectively use exercise as medicine.

High blood pressure has multiple causes, such as chronically high blood sugar, being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and sleep apnea. Losing excessive weight and improving blood circulation is crucial, so a light to moderate intensity walk for 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times a week, can help improve your condition and also burn extra calories as a bonus too. In addition, performing daily stretching and mobility exercises — which will take no more than 10 minutes — for 6 to 8 weeks will probably give you huge improvements. Not doing something to help improve high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart conditions, vision loss and stroke. 

Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by lifestyle choices. There are exceptions, however a stressful lifestyle, being overweight and making wrong food choices for your body type will probably aggravate the risk. Of course all disease is connected, with a good reason — we have just one body and everything in it is connected to everything else. If type 2 diabetes is not treated correctly and fast then it can cause health complications such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and many more. It will decrease your life expectancy and most importantly your quality of life. 

10 minutes walk, or other similar movement, after each main meal can be a huge help in lowering blood sugar to healthy levels. Also consuming smaller meals is beneficial, so you can split large high carbohydrate meals in two. Ideally walk or perform similar movement for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, and 7 days a week. Yes — ideally do this every single day and you will be surprised at the results. Of course if walking is not suitable for you then you can use a stationary bike or just do any movement in your home such as standing and marching your legs, sitting in a chair and standing up again, swinging your legs and arms. Just keep your body as active as possible. 

Especially after the pandemic unfortunately we started hearing more and more that people are struggling with anxiety and mental health problems. Many studies show that exercise is the best remedy and in most cases actually more effective than some medications. Outdoor activities can improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and helping with negative moods and cognitive function. Spending time outside playing games, joining group activities, walking in the park or trails at least 4 to 5 times a week can help tremendously. Depending how much time you have, more is better. Also of course it depends on where you live but getting as much sunshine as you can will help improve your mood as well. 

You may think that these are very simple prescriptions, and they are, however just like the medications that your doctor prescribes you need to take it seriously and get your daily exercise dose to see results. Of course, please don’t wait until you lose your health before you start. 

Resources:

“Health Threats from High Blood Pressure”. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure

AARP. “12 Surprising Things That Can Raise Your Blood Pressure”. https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2022/surprising-causes-high-blood-pressure.html

Mayo Clinic. “Type 2 diabetes”. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193

PubMed. “Exercise for Mental Health”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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