HCH Physiatrist Dr. Matthew Harrison prescribes exercise therapy at home and in the office
Posted by: Kelley Shull TredwinJanuary 31, 2012
Holy Cross Hospital’s Physiatrist Dr. Matthew Harrison prescribes exercise therapy to his patient’s and lives a healthy lifestyle himself. He understands how hard it is to stay on a continuous path of health. He and his wife and three young children are like many families who are balancing work, family, exercise, nutrition, and everything else that comes up in a day.
Dr. Harrison’s healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, sleep, good nutrition and planning. “Being healthy is not easy and it takes a great deal of intentional effort. Being unhealthy is easy, however I have learned it is easier to stay fit than to try to become fit,” says Dr. Harrison. “Like anyone I get motivated and I become lazy. I try not to blame myself if I am feeling a little lazy, but I do try to plan to get back on track. For me various seasonal activities keeps me more motivated.”
Riding a bike, swimming, skiing and running are ways Dr. Harrison stays physically active. “It’s not always easy to make time for exercise but, if I can stop by the Youth and Family Center for a swim even for only 15 minutes a few days a week I feel better than if I had not gone at all.”
Being an active role model to his children is very important for their health. It is important to promote fun activities and makes sure the kids are eating nutritional snacks and meals.
“If parents have a healthy lifestyle the kids will probably fall in line. At our home my wife and I try to get everyone outside,” says Dr. Harrison. “I try to include the family in exercise as much as possible whether it’s the kids riding their bike or encouraging games, playing ball or sledding. My wife and I try to focus on having fun and being patient. It is important to remember balance.”
Nutrition and sleep are also key elements for good health. And the Harrison family also tries to get healthy doses of both daily. It takes planning, but a bit of motivation and support keeps them on track. “At home we try to minimize the presence of processed junk food. It’s hard to overeat on salad or fruit,” says Dr. Harrison. “We encourage our children to eat colorful foods which provide healthy meals and we involve them in menu planning which gives them the opportunity to contribute their wants for meals. Healthy does not mean tasteless, they have never refused my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I make with whole wheat flour!”
As a physician Dr. Harrison is trained to treat and prevent disease. However, he believes that healthy is more than simply genetics but more of a “health triangle” involving the mind, body and spirit. “A disturbance of one aspect affects the other. Genetic factors play a role, but so do environmental and cultural experiences – otherwise known as lifestyle,” says Dr. Harrison. “To assess one’s health I have learned it is important to investigate the mental and spiritual well being as well as the physical problem and understand the whole person, this way I can promote health and not just treat disease.”
For anyone wanting to live a healthier lifestyle “be patient,” says Dr. Harrison. “Take baby steps toward big changes and remember it is important not to feel disappointed or blame either yourself or others for poor health. A sense of victimization or failure leads to a barrier for promoting change. Partner with your doctor or a coach and work hard at promoting your health.
Dr. Harrison says, “I recommend the three G’s: 1. Goal – which provides accountability and inspiration. Make it attainable but challenging. 2. Guru – provides guidance. 3. Good time – choose activities that you enjoy, maybe even with friends whose company is motivating. Lifestyle changes should be with a sense of celebration. Enjoy the new and healthier you.”
For more information about Dr. Harrison visit www.TaosHospital.org