Don’t fall off the treadmill (or bike, or rower, or…)
New year’s resolutions around fitness and exercise are incredibly popular. The excitement and hope generated by the start of the year makes starting an exercise program easy.
Now that it’s February, staying with it gets hard. Life gets busy, motivation drops, and suddenly you’re back on the couch, wondering how you’re 6 episodes into The Golden Bachelor instead of at the gym.
You know the benefits of exercise – they’re probably what motivated you to start exercising in the first place. If you need a reminder here are just a few:
• 3 hours of exercise a week reduced pain and disability by 47% in people with knee arthritis
• Exercise reduced the progression of dementia by 50%
• Exercise reduced the risk of hip fracture in post-menopausal women by 47%
• A meta analysis showed exercise decreased anxiety by 48%
• A low dose of exercise relieves depression in 30% of people, a higher dose woks for 47% of people
• A 12 year study of 10,000 Harvard alumni showed that people who exercised were 23% less likely to die
• Exercise is the #1 treatment for fatigue
Knowing that you should exercise or why you should exercise isn’t the problem. Actually getting up and doing it is. Here are our top tips for making sure you stick to your exercise plan:
Set realistic goals. Don’t try to go from zero to hero overnight. Start with small, achievable goals and increase them gradually. Make it easy to win – that helps you build motivation and an exercise habit. For some people that might mean starting with a daily 10 minute walk. For some people, that bar is too high.
When we say make it easy to win, we mean easy. Your goal could be to scan your card at the gym 3 times a week. It might be putting on your walking shoes and going out the door. It might be one pushup. Start tiny.
Do activities you enjoy. Exercise isn’t punishment. Choose activities that are fun. It could be running, walking the dog, dancing, swimming, kickboxing, or playing a sport.
Schedule it. Schedule your workouts like you would any other important appointment. When people ask you to do something else during that time, say “sorry, I’ve got an appointment.” The more you make exercise a routine, the less likely you are to skip it.
Don’t go it alone. Having someone waiting for you at the gym really motivates you to get there. Having support helps push you to work harder, and motivates you when you’re feeling down. Your support could be a friend, the other people in a group fitness class, or a trainer.
Mix it up. Try a new class. If you usually run at the same pace, try intervals. Walk a different route. Doing the same thing over and over again gets boring and leads to burnout. Keep things interesting to stay interested.
Track your progress. Bonus points if you find a way to make it visual somehow. Our brains love to see tasks checked off, a chart or numbers going up, and rings closing. Seeing how far you’ve come is a great motivator. Keep track of your workouts in a journal, make a spreadsheet, use an app or fitness tracker.
Bribes work. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Set a goal to work out 3 times this week and treat yourself to your favorite coffee when you do. Buy yourself a new workout outfit, get a massage, or anything else that will help you stay motivated when you reach milestones.
Adjust. Don’t push yourself too hard, especially when you’re starting out. If you’re feeling tired and sore, take the intensity down. Plan rest days into your routine. Don’t make your goal and plan so rigid that it’s impossible to complete in the real world.
Forgive yourself! Everyone has setbacks. You’re going to get sick. You’re going to miss a workout. That’s ok. Pick yourself up and get back on track. With the right mindset and a little perseverance, you can reach your fitness goals.
1. Updating ACSM’s Recommendations for Exercise Preparticipation Health Screening. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 47(11):p 2473-2479, November 2015. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2015/11000/updating_acsm_s_recommendations_for_exercise.28.aspx
2. Benefits of exercise for older adults: a review of existing evidence and current recommendations for the general population. Clinics in geriatric medicine 8.1 (1992): 35-50. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749069018304968
3. Exercise Acts as a Drug https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01970.x
4. Perceived Exercise Barriers https://doi.org/10.1002/art.22098
5. The Benefits of Exercise on Brain Health https://www.choosept.com/podcast/benefits-of-exercise-on-brain-health
6. Exercise Assessment and Prescription in the older adults and individuals at risk for functional decline https://learningcenter.apta.org/products/exercise-assessment-and-prescription-in-older-adults-and-individuals-at-risk-for-functional-decline?_gl=1*1c4v900*_ga*MTEwNjIzMzg2MS4xNjgxODQyODcw*_ga_ZZJK74HXNR*MTY5NzE5NzczNy4xMS4xLjE2OTcyMDAzODMuNTguMC4w&_ga=2.223614619.1495021570.1697197738-1106233861.1681842870
7. 23 and ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our healtt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo
8. Time Magazine: How To Keep New Year’s Resolutions: https://time.com/6243642/how-to-keep-new-years-resolutions-2/
Did you know that “Swearing can create tighter human bonds and enhance the therapeutic alliance between a patient and a physical therapist”?!
The article by Washmuth and Stephens from the Archives of Physiotherapy, suggests that swearing can help with pain and improve tolerance and force.
If you must resort to swearing while in physical therapy, just make sure that there isn’t anyone nearby that may offended or worse yet, a younger patient that colorful language is not appropriate for!
Want to Stay Healthy? Move More.
COVID has certainly made the importance of health very clear and we have all seen how quickly things can change with an illness. While COVID is currently front and center in most people’s thoughts, it isn’t the only thing out there that can change your life. Heart disease, diabetes, strokes and cancer can all be devastating too.
Movement offers a defense
If you’re looking to be more resilient and defend against these things, physical activity can do it. The dangers of being sedentary are well known and documented in the research. Excessive sitting and sedentary time have even been called the new smoking. For many of us, sitting and being inactive is part of our jobs. However, research has shown that getting in enough movement can counteract the negative effects of being sedentary.
A large study done in the U.K. found no association between the amount of time people spent sedentary and their chances of illness. But the authors didn’t conclude that being sedentary is OK. Instead, they felt their findings were likely “attributable to a protective effect of the high volumes of daily walking.” The study was conducted in London, where people tend to spend much more time walking or standing than average. The people in the study had daily walking times that were over double the average amount reported in the U.K.
Physical Therapists Are Unequaled Experts in Human Movement
While walking was the activity in this particular study, other research has shown that all kinds of movement can help protect your health. If you’re looking to get those protective benefits for yourself you could choose to walk, bike, lift weights, dance or garden. If you’re not moving as much or as well as you’d like, see your physical therapist. PTs are the most qualified professionals on the planet to help you move better and allow you to stay healthy and enjoy life. From designing a program to get you started or moving more to helping you recover from an injury, your PT is the right person to look to for help.
Get On and Off the Floor
A series of studies suggest that if you can go from standing to sitting on the floor and back to standing without using your hands, you’re a lot less likely to die than someone who can’t. It’s called the sitting-rising test. Here’s how it works:
You start standing, and without support you sit down on the floor, then stand back up. You start with a score of 10. Every time you put a hand, knee, forearm or the side of your leg on the floor you lose 1 point. Putting a hand on your knee or thigh to help also costs a point. In a sample of over 2,000 people, they found that scoring less than 8 points made you twice as likely to die in the next 6 years when compared to people who scored higher. Score 3 or less and you’re 5 times more likely to die in the same period. Overall, each point in the test is worth a 21% decrease in mortality from all causes.
Death in the sitting-rising studies was death from anything. So while we know that exercise and healthy lifestyle reduce your risk of specific diseases like heart disease or diabetes, it appears that being able to move may provide much more wide ranging protection than we previously thought.
Insurers Are Moving From “Sick-care” to “Well-care”
TRICARE has decided to waive the cost-sharing requirement of up to three visits to a physical therapist for low back pain. They’ve said that the goal is to encourage more use of “high-value” treatments for low back pain. Understanding what they mean by “high-value” vs “low-value” treatment can help us see the direction healthcare payers are moving and how physical therapy is a part of that.
TRICARE tells us in their summary of this demonstration what they mean by high and low-value care: “Increasing the value of health care refers to improving patients’ quality of care and outcomes, improving patients’ access to care, and reducing overall costs of care. In contrast, low-value care refers to interventions that: are not proven to benefit patients; may harm patients; result in unnecessary costs; or waste health care resources.”
High-value care leads to better outcomes, is easy to access and is cheaper for both patients and insurers. We already know that physical therapy fits into this category, but if we look at other things that fall into this category, a larger theme starts to emerge. In 2017 the American College of Physicians released guidelines for treating low back pain that have been widely endorsed. Initial treatment recommendations include exercise, stretching, tai chi, yoga, progressive relaxation, heat or ice, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motor control exercise. These are all active treatments, where the practitioner and the patient are working together to improve. This is “well care” or “let me help you get better.”
In contrast, low-value care tends to be “sick care” where the patient is a passive participant and the practitioner is saying “let me make you better.” TRICARE puts imaging before six weeks without red flag symptoms, surgery for non-specific low back pain, opioids as the first or second-line treatment, and bedrest in the low-value category. We would also place spinal injections in this category for most people. They’re expensive, only offer temporary relief, usually have a long wait before they’re available and include the risk of serious infection and damage to surrounding soft tissues like skin, cartilage, and ligaments.
This isn’t to say that imaging, surgery, or injections are always bad. For a small percentage of people with low back pain, they’re the right thing. But, most people should start with treatments that have the best outcomes for the lowest cost. If those treatments tend to focus on empowering the person in pain to actively participate in their care rather than making them dependent on someone to “heal” them, that’s even better. Physical therapists have known this and have been providing care that fits this model for years. TRICARE’s demonstration that waives cost-sharing clearly shows that insurers are recognizing the value of this type of care and that they are actively moving in this direction.
About Physical Therapy
Physical therapists evaluate and record a patient’s progress. Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain. They are often an important part of preventive care, rehabilitation, and treatment for patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.
Physical therapy will help you strengthen the muscles associated with your injury as well as surrounding muscles. Often, strength imbalances lead to injury. Improve outcomes: Physical therapy helps improve post-surgical outcomes, by addressing pain, scar tissue, strength, range of motion, and more.
Welcome to Park Avenue Physical Therapy
Voted Best of the Best for Physical Therapy
by the Medina Journal Register and Hometown Extra multiple times!
The husband-and-wife physical therapy team of Drs. Anthony J. Diaz and Nadia A. Nava-Diaz offers more than just effective physical therapy techniques. Their personalized, involved approach to patient care gives you the support you need to heal, in a friendly, supportive and comforting environment. This level of care achieves the results doctors’ trust and patients rely on.
With their doctorate degrees in physical therapy and commitment to ongoing education courses, Anthony and Nadia are qualified to address the wide-ranging conditions that cause physical impairment or pain.
Anthony and Nadia are both manually trained therapists that use a variety of hand on techniques to accelerate your rehabilitation. These techniques include joint and soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release and cross friction massage along with therapeutic exercises and modalities. They are well known for their successful treatment methods and friendly, customized, one-on-one care.
For your convenience Park Avenue Physical Therapy offers same-day, early morning and lunchtime appointments. Evening hours are also available by appointment. Most insurance coverage is accepted and they will file your insurance paperwork for you. You will find free, convenient parking, including spaces that are handicapped-accessible.