When most San Diegans think of physical therapy, they think of it as a rehabilitative measure that you have to deal with after an injury or surgery. In fact, the opposite is true; physical therapy can be preventative. Think of it this way: you see your family doctor at routine intervals for a checkup to help prevent illness. Why not see your physical therapist to help prevent injury and chronic disease as well?
In 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force was “mandated by Congress to conduct rigorous reviews of scientific evidence to create evidence-based recommendations for preventive services that may be provided in the primary care setting.” The task force studied the efficacy of a variety of preventative methods, including taking medications for certain conditions like menopause and cardiovascular disease, screening for depression and cancer and STDs, and – you guessed it – the effect of physical exercise.
As a result, the task force concluded that adding physical exercise into your weekly routine can act as a preventive measure, decreasing your chances of developing osteoporosis, obesity, injuries from falls or balance issues, and even high blood pressure.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become weak and brittle, and it grows more dangerous with age. It is much more common in women than men, and it can be brought on by nutrient deficiency and/or a sedentary lifestyle. As we grow older, our muscles require movement and resistance to stay strong and healthy. Our bones are no different. Older adults with osteoporosis often experience fractured hips or broken bones, which can be devastating to the quality of your life.
To ward off osteoporosis, be honest with your doctor about your diet and the amount of physical exercise you get. Consider scheduling a preventative physical therapy appointment with your PT specialist too. Even a minimal amount of strength and balancing exercises can help your bones stay strong and healthy deep into your senior years.
If you went to San Diego public school as a kid, you’ve already been introduced to the Body-Mass Index (you can calculate your BMI at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s website). Keep in mind that a person’s BMI score accounts for neither race, nor gender, nor people with higher-than-average or lower-than-average muscle mass. Still, it’s a decent indicator of a person’s overall risk for obesity because once you reach 30 on the BMI scale, it is likely that you are not living a healthy lifestyle.
|Normal||18.5 – 24.9|
|Overweight||25.0 – 29.9|
|Obesity||30.0 and Above|
Obesity affects people of ages, races, ethnicities, and genders, and has long been an epidemic on a societal scale. Obesity not only leads to other major health issues and possibly death, but it significantly decreases your quality of life. If you are concerned about your level of energy or you think your weight is beginning to affect your ability to perform tasks that used to be easy, it may be time to start or improve on an existing an exercise regimen than can help you get back on track.
Increased Risk of Injuries From Falling
According to the Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality, older Americans are at higher risk of being injured as a result of a fall. The AHRQ recommends “effective exercise and physical therapy interventions [that] include group classes and at-home physiotherapy strategies and range in intensity from very low (≤9 hours) to high (>75 hours).”
This means that senior citizens aged 65 years and older can improve their strength and balance without having to spend hours on a treadmill or in a pool. Even mild effort for short periods of time can be effective in helping you develop strength and balance. In fact, my PT specialists can teach exercises that will give you more confidence in your steps- and help you reclaim your mobility.
High Blood Pressure
When you have high blood pressure, you may not even realize that you are in danger. While we can all feel our heart beat faster when we are under pressure, exercising, or in a stressful situation, but pulse and blood pressure are not the same thing. Your heart rate measures how quickly your heart is beating at any given moment, but your blood pressure is more of a long-term indicator. According to the American Health Association, there are many risk factors that lead to high blood pressure, and chief among those is lack of physical activity.
Since high blood pressure comes on slowly over time, you may not even realize that you are at risk for heart attack, stroke, loss of vision, or sexual dysfunction – before it’s too late. The good thing is that your risk for all of these diseases and conditions decreases as soon as you start making improvements on your physical routine. Even simple solutions like taking the dog for longer walks or doing air squats while you wait for the coffee to brew in the morning are beneficial to your health.
Talk to our physical therapists in Solana Beach today to learn more about how a quick injury prevention appointment can lead to a longer, healthier, safer life!
Relevant Sources for Using Preventative PT to Stay Healthy