A Body In Motion Stays In Motion….
Over the years, there has been a multitude of research done to show the importance of physical activity in relation to overall health and well-being. Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to help improve physical and mental function as well as reverse some of the effects of chronic disease to keep people mobile and independent. Regular physical activity is not only safe, but necessary, for people of all ages. It can help decrease the risk of major cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, obesity, falls, cognitive impairments, osteoporosis and muscle weakness. Regular exercise can also improve our quality of life. It can relieve stress, anxiety, depression and anger, as well as lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, improve blood flow, keep weight under control and prevent bone loss. Those people who are more physically active have been shown to live about 7 years longer than those who are not active and who are obese. With that being said, never underestimate the positive effects that just moving can have on your life.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week; broken down to 30 minute sessions 5 times a week. These sessions can include anything from walking to vigorous activity (CrossFit). Those 30 minutes can even include 3 - 10 minute walking breaks during your work day.
Being a physical therapist has truly opened my eyes to the importance of “movement”, and that maintaining fitness, not resting, is key to injury recovery. In the past, most orthopedic injuries have been rehabilitated with the RICE protocol - rest, ice, compression and elevation. It is important to understand that complete rest is not truly helpful for injury rehabilitation, and in fact, can hinder it. The approach that I believe should be used for healing includes movement and staying active, without aggravating the injured area. This also includes correcting movement dysfunction, muscle imbalances, and other weaknesses, as well as optimizing recovery with proper sleep and nutrition.
Low impact aerobic exercise such as cycling and swimming are just a couple of ways to help the healing process while promoting blood flow and healing to the injured areas. If we stop exercising due to injury, muscles begin to get stiffer, weaker, and lose their overall functional ability. Studies have shown that if you completely stop exercising due to injury, your cardiovascular fitness can significantly decline in just 2 weeks. For every 1 week of inactivity, it can take up to 2 weeks to regains that lost cardiovascular endurance. Cardiovascular fitness is very easy to lose and deconditioning happens quickly.
Staying active through injury is important. If you have suffered from an injury, talk to your doctor about the exercises that you can safely perform. You can still benefit from aerobic exercise without aggravating your injury. If something hurts, stop right away. Also, find a physical therapist who is going to address the root cause of your symptoms. Most people stop exercising while they are injured because they think they need to save energy and protect the injured area. In reality, exercise and movement is one of the most important parts of the healing process.
Any questions, feel free to reach out! :)
Van Allen, Jennifer; “Maintaining Fitness - Not Resting - May be the Key to Recovering from an Injury”; April, 2016.
Soud, Patty; “The Importance of Exercise Following an Injury or Surgery”; January, 2014.
McPhee, Jamie, et al; “Physical Activity in Older Age: Perspectives for Healthy Aging and Frailty”; March 2016.