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Sonia Rapaport, MD
(Family Medicine)
Cindy Fraed, MD

121 S. Estes Drive, Suite 205-D, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

Telephone: (919) 969-1414.


Sonia Rapaport, MD, is the Director of Haven Medical and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. She is a Shoemaker Protocol Certified Physician.

Stretch to Shift Your World

By Sonia Rapaport, MD, MFA
Medical Co-Editor of Health&Healing

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.”
—Benjamin Franklin

Sonia Rapaport, MD, MFA

When my youngest child was born, I had three other children between the ages of 14 months and 5 years. My youngest underwent heart surgery at one month of age and by the time she was four months old, I had made the diagnosis of a chronic neurological condition. I spent all day/every day, holding her, refusing to set her down, for fear that her grip on this world was too weak. It wasn’t until a friend gently suggested that I stretch, or at least reach my hands up to the sky and then stretch them open, that I realized how stiff I was becoming, how frozen in a curled up, protective position. That simple act of stretching and moving daily shifted my world.

In my practice, I often see patients who have become stuck, both literally and figuratively. Whether due to pain, weakness, or fatigue, they cannot move. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “insufficient physical activity is one of the 10 leading risk factors for death worldwide.” Lack of activity increases the risk of death by 20-30 percent; 25 percent of us are not active enough, and the problem is getting worse—4 out of every 5 teenagers globally do not get sufficient physical activity. WHO recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise) per week, including at least two days of muscle strengthening activities. For adults with poor mobility, activity should focus on improved balance and prevention of falls.

Movement lowers rates of all causes of mortality (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, breast and colon cancers, osteoporosis fractures, obesity). Sleep is better, the body detoxifies better, digestion improves, and we are happier. Yet most Americans are sedentary (physical activity rates are worse in higher income countries). Despite increased sign ups at local gyms during the month of January, a casual inspection reveals that crowds at gyms drop off by the beginning of February. And while gym membership may engage and improve activity, watching a TV screen anesthetizes us from what our body is doing. Activity is best when it engages every part of us.

The Women’s March on Raleigh (or on Washington, for those fortunate enough to go) was an ideal activity: walking, standing, engaging in community, experiencing positive exchanges with others, taking action, and making one’s voice heard. Volunteering in communities is an ideal form of physical activity with broad benefit: get signatures for a cause you believe in, deliver meals, play basketball with a child as a Big Brother or Sister, adopt and clean up your local roads. When we engage in activity that is fulfilling, we are also setting down our phones and stepping away from the TV. We stop being immovable.

In this edition of Health&Healing, you’ll read articles highlighting talented providers and exploring the many ways they support their patients to pursue the magic of movement. As you read, I encourage you to explore what impediments exist for activity in your life. Let 2017 be the year you make physical activity your priority.

  • Stretch daily.
  • Walk whenever you can: take the stairs, park further away than you need to.
  • Spend time outdoors daily.
  • Find a cause and take action regularly. (My favorite: