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November 21, 2019

A Body in Motion Stays in Motion

By Joanne Fruth, MD


“A body at motion stays in motion; a body at rest stays at rest.” 

Thanks Sir Isaac Newton for your first law of motion, but thanks professor Louis Alley, Ph.D. for teaching it in a way that has remained with me my entire medical career.

Not many people know I completed a master’s degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Exercise Physiology prior to attending medical school. Dr. Alley was one of my professors and fond of quoting Newton, with a powerful twist at the end …


Over the last thirty years, multiple studies have demonstrated that regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health conditions including type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, obesity, arthritis, strokes, constipation, urinary incontinence and falls. Exercise can even improve sex life!

I’ve used several methods to inspire my patients to exercise throughout my career. I’ve literary written prescriptions for exercise. I’ve recommended pedometers with the goal of 5000 steps day.

Currently, I recommend the guidelines of the Department of Health and Human Services: a minimum of 75 vigorous-intensity or 150 moderate-intensity minutes of aerobic activity per week. I show my patients how they can strengthen their major muscle groups during their appointment: I stand up and do pushups with my hands on the counter, then do several deep squats (with my knees staying above my toes).

The point of what may seem like silliness – you don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. You can exercise while the water is boiling for your coffee! In fact, you can achieve those 150 minutes of activity in little packets of time. Dance to a song you enjoy while brushing your teeth. Walk around the block or down the driveway and back. Purposefully look for the worst parking place and not the best, and always use the steps instead of the elevator.

I’m glad I can give the words of Dr. Lou Alley an opportunity to still make a difference. Funny how an educator can say something that sticks with a student for an entire career.

Louis “Lou” E. Alley, 76, professor emeritus in the University of Iowa Department of Physical Education, passed away in Ames, Iowa in 1991 at the age of 76. He was a giant in the field of physical education, a life-long educator and contributor to the science supporting the health benefits of exercise.


Dr. Fruth is a family physician with a mission to promote the benefits of primary care and especially Family Medicine (#FMrevolution).  As Medical Director at Avance Care, Dr. Fruth uses her years of experience and passion for teaching to inspire other clinicians to make each primary care visit one which builds the foundation good health

Dr. Fruth loves hiking, trips to Broadway and seeking adventure (or a quiet evening) with her emergency physician husband. She has three adult children on their own missions to make the world a better place.

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