Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. ~ Stanley Edwards
Our goal as physical therapists is not only to fulfill rehabilitation needs for our patients, but to address the health needs of society. A key feature of our approach is to educate people how to prevent a condition from re-occurring and this often involves looking at every part of the body. For example, in degenerative joint disease of the knee, not only do we target quadricep and hamstring strengthening, but we involve core strengthening as it serves to provide further strength development through the entire kinetic chain improving the patient’s overall function.
We also inform our patients of the relationships with overweight/obesity and associated conditions that we often treat. For example, osteoarthritis of knees, hips, has an incidence 3-10.5 times greater in those who are obese. Low back pain has a relative risk of 2 in obese persons.
We promote healthy lifestyle changes, which may involve addressing increased exercise/activity and weight loss. A small amount of weight loss goes a long way! One study shows that weight loss of 10-12 pounds decreased parameters of knee pain by 30% and improved function by 24% in 316 overweight people. Similarly, a 5-10% reduction in one’s current weight will reduce blood pressure 10-20 mmHg, decrease total cholesterol by 10% and LDL by 15% and and lower the risk of developing diabetes greater than 50%.
Equally important is the introduction of exercise in one’s life. Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of several common forms of cancer, most notably colon and breast cancer.
One 7-year study shows this important conclusion: people who do not smoke, have a body mass index lower than 30, exercise for 3.5 hours each week, and eat many fruits and vegetables and whole grains, can reduce the risk of chronic illness like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer by an average of 80 percent.
After we discharge our patients from their rehabilitation program, we encourage them to continue with an ongoing exercise program integrating their rehabilitation exercises into a general fitness program. We provide them with exercise sheets with suggested ways to add activity to their routines, along with checklists for keeping track of their progress. We provide a list of recreational facilities for each patient. We provide patients with information on healthy food choices and helpful hints on making behavioral changes regarding eating patterns. We also offer an exercise app to our patients where they can follow their program and ensure they do their exercises correctly.
Andersen RE. et. Al. Relationship between body weight gain and significant knee, hip, and back pain in older Americans. Obese Res. 2003;11:1159-1162.
Christensen R., Astrup A., Bliddal H. Weight loss: the treatment of choice for knee osteoarthritis? A randomized trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2005;13:20-27
Ford, ES, et al. Healthy living is the best revenge. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(15):1355- 1362
McTiernan A, et al. Women’s Health Initiative Cohort Study. Recreational physical activity and the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women: the Women’s Health Initiative Cohort Study. JAMA. 2003 Sep 10;290(10):1331-6.
Messier SP. Et. Al. Exercise and dietary weight loss in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis: the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50:1501-1510.