Exercising can save lives, but fewer Virginians are doing it | Lifestyle

In late September, Richmond resident Denise Davis noticed she had trouble finishing an otherwise routine walk without stopping to use her inhaler.

The 60-year-old knows plenty of people who have health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes and don’t do much about them. But that’s not her style. She threw herself into her exercise routine, lost 16 pounds in a month and now finds she can leave her inhaler at home.

Davis is one of many who takes Terrica Woolridge’s free weekly class through Sports Backers’ Fitness Warriors program at the Robinson Theater in Church Hill. Many have stories just like Davis’ — once exercise became part of their routine, they not only feel better, but they find they use less medication as well.

“(Participants) tell me, ‘I couldn’t go up the stairs, but now I can,’ or ‘My arthritis isn’t as bad,’” Woolridge said. “You don’t have to look at the scale, that’s not the only detector of your health. How’re you sleeping? How’re you feeling?”

New research suggests that Woolridge’s line of thinking is right. Beyond the effect on the waistline, regular exercise saves lives.

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