by Dr. Matt Scotton, DPT, ATC, CSCS
Do you wish you were healthier or more active? For about 80% of Americans, the answer to this question is “yes.” Don’t worry, there is hope,… and a simple solution. About 99.9% of people have the ability to improve their health and fitness in as little as two weeks.
In my experience as a physical therapist and athletic trainer for over 25 years I have witnessed positive health changes in thousands of people. I usually get to work with people who have health challenges complex enough that people know they need professional help to overcome them, but what I’ve learned and plan to share with you in this article applies to everyone.
The human body has an amazing capacity to heal and adapt. It heals and adapts to the “stress” we apply to it. The key to improving health and fitness is to apply positive, constructive stress to our body regularly. This means being more active or performing exercise at least two times per week. These positive changes in our bodies usually occur faster if we exercise every day.
Most people call things they do every day or every week habits. Research tells us that starting a new habit is not easy, but replacing a habit or attaching a new activity to an existing habit increases the success rate drastically. What unhealthy habit would you like to replace with a healthy one? Or what do you do every day that you could attach a healthy activity to? Here are a couple of simple examples: you could replace the habit of sitting while you watch your favorite show with standing or marching in place while you watch; or since we all eat every day, you could stack an activity like going for a walk right before or after a meal every day.
Since you’re reading this article you probably know that the benefits of daily physical activities and exercise are immense and include: increased energy, happiness, strength of muscles and bones, memory and brain health, and a more responsive immune system. Being active also reduces risk of many chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart attack, and stroke.
How much activity is enough? The updated physical activity guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week from people in every age group. (link: https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html) This is about 30 to 60 minutes per day, and the best news is that it can be divided up into smaller blocks of time each day if you wish.
Physical activity has immediate impacts on our mood, function, and sleep. When we are consistently active our bodies adapt and we reap the long-term rewards of improved health and function and reduced risk of chronic illnesses.
If you have pain, weakness, or a balance problem that keeps you from being active request an appointment at one of our 8 clinics in Ames, Des Moines, Newton, Pella, Oskaloosa, Centerville, and Waukee. One of our physical therapists will work with you to achieve your health and function goals.