Physical therapy tips on proper exercise methods

Posted Dec. 05, 2011, at 1:59 p.m.

The leading preventable cause of death is smoking, followed by a sedentary lifestyle that is void of physical activity. This can easily be changed, but most people need help and support to make the change.

Physical therapists are not only interested in helping someone overcome an injury, they are also interested in the health and wellness of individuals. In addition to helping to prevent injuries, physical therapists can also help you learn how to control your weight, avoid health problems before they are allowed to develop, educate you on health prevention, help you stay ahead of potential injuries and advise you on how to exercise properly. When you visit a physical therapist it is like getting your own health and wellness program that is customized to suit your needs, and this includes exercise.

Everyone’s health status is different, which is the reason most people seek the expertise of a physical therapist to ensure the exercise regimen is appropriate for their individual needs. That said, here are a few general tips a physical therapist would tell you on how to exercise properly before they create a detailed and individualized plan which will get you the results you are looking for without injury.

General exercise tips

As you work with a physical therapist to come up with a regimen that is suitable for your level of health there are a few rules you should follow regardless of the exercise regimen you are going to pursue.

Water intake regimen

For every exercise session you should drink lots of water before you begin, during the session and after you have completed your exercise for the day. Also, you should sip water throughout the course of the day to ensure your cells remain hydrated.

Eating habits

Refrain from eating at least two hours before any aerobic type of exercise. If you eat before your exercise session your body is exerting energy to digest the food and you will not get the most out of your exercise routine. Also, eating before you exercise may cause you to feel sluggish and cause nausea during vigorous exercise.

Pay attention to your body’s messages

Your body is very diligent at sending you messages during an exercise session, so make sure you pay attention. If you experience any pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or any other symptoms which are out of the ordinary make sure you tell your physical therapist.

Don’t be too strict with your regimen

While self-discipline is important for reaching your health and fitness goals it is important to adjust your exercise routine when you feel tired or you are ill. You should also monitor the weather conditions and refrain from your routine when the temperature and humidity soars.

Warm-up

Your body needs a period of transition when going from rest to an exercise routine. It is very important that you spend up to 10 minutes on a warm-up session before you begin exercising. If you are older, the warm-up session should be a little longer to prevent injury during exercise. Any activity that is low impact is great for a warm-up session along with a stretching routine recommended by your physical therapist.

Post-exercise cool down

Make sure that you gradually cool down at the end of a vigorous exercise routine and avoid abruptly stopping your session. A good way to cool down is to slow down your activity in increments and then follow up with stretching to prevent injuries. An example of a cool down might be to slow down to a walk if you are running or if you are walking briskly gradually slow your pace.

Three essentials of exercise

As a general rule, an exercise routine consists of three essentials — aerobic, strength training and flexibility. The aerobic portion of your routine serves to strengthen your heart, strength training helps you maintain muscle mass and burn fat and flexibility allows your body to maintain freedom of movement by improving your range of motion.

If you want to live a long and healthful life it is important to make the right choices and one of those choices is to exercise properly. This is where a physical therapist can be very beneficial in helping you to improve the quality of your life with a personalized regimen which will help you to prevent further injury in the future and reduce your medical bills as you enjoy a healthful lifestyle.

Information provided by Results Physical Therapy & Wellness Center, with locations at 797 Wilson St., Brewer, 992-4042; 51 High St., Suite C, Dexter, 924-0077; and 1012 West Main St., Dover-Foxcroft, 564-0587.

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