According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68 percent of adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese (for each group the percentages are equal). Making the commitment to be physically active is one of the best ways children, adults, and individuals with disabilities can prevent or combat obesity and its consequences. A physical therapist, who is an expert in restoring and improving mobility in people’s lives, can develop an individualized physical activity plan for you, whether your goal is to help your family stay fit, manage your weight, or combat the effects of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Starting a Physical Activity Regimen
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.
Physical therapists extensive knowledge of health conditions allows them to examine people of all ages and abilities and design safe and effective physical activity programs that help establish life-long habits of physical activity. Explore our health center on exercise to get exercise tips and learn how a physical therapist can help you.
Children with Physical Disabilities
Children with physical disabilities are at risk of not participating in any form of physical activity.
Family games such as horseshoes or bocce may be modified for children with various physical limitations. Adapted kickball, balloon volleyball, seated volleyball, adaptive skiing, wheelchair basketball, and the Wii Fit are other great suggestions. View more about how children with disabilities can stay active.
Obesity and Weight Management
Preventing or combating obesity is a complex and long-term challenge. For children and adults who are overweight, the goals of a physical therapist-designed exercise program are to restore flexibility, increase strength and cardiovascular endurance, reduce pain, address posture and balance, and prevent disability. After an evaluation for individual and group exercises, physical therapists address how obesity affects the way the body moves and functions. Regular physical activity helps individuals better perform their daily activities while decreasing disability associated with long-term obesity.
Physical therapists also incorporate behavior modification into weight loss programs.For instance, treatment may include identifying causes of unhealthy behaviors, learning how an individual’s readiness to begin or continue positive behaviors impacts progress, and recognizing any barriers that may compromise healthy habits. Physical therapists help the individual set goals and monitor behavior. Frequent contact, feedback, and continuous motivation and support are all components of behavioral programs that physical therapists provide in individual and group settings.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into the energy necessary for daily life. While the cause of diabetes is unknown, factors such as obesity and lack of exercise play important roles.
Physical therapists treat individuals with type 2 diabetes to help manage the impact of the disease on function and activity level. Instruction in a safe and appropriate exercise and activity program and assistance in monitoring blood sugar levels during exercise are just some of the roles that physical therapists play. Diabetes often results in restricted blood and nerve supply to the limbs. This makes individuals with diabetes more susceptible to ulcers and sores that are slow to heal and difficult to treat. Physical therapists works with individuals with diabetes to help them protect their skin and prevent skin breakdown during physical activity. View more about how physical therapists can develop safe exercise programs for people with diabetes
Physical Activity Considerations
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease that affects both men and women. It is associated with low bone mass and thinning of the bone structure, making bones fragile and more likely to break. Learn more about how a physical therapist can help ensure good bone health.
Physical therapists can help prevent and treat injuries common in runners by analyzing running style, prescribing proper footwear and orthotics, and teaching exercises that improve strength, flexibility, and muscle balance. Explore the health center for runners for more information.
Bicycle-related pain and injuries are commonly associated with poor bike fit. Explore the health center for cycling for more information on how a physical therapist can help prevent and treat cycling-related injuries.
Common gardening tasks can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints, especially for seniors or those who are normally sedentary. Learn more about reducing the risk of injury while gardening.