Category Archives: Healthy Living

  1. Good Night’s Sleep Linked to Optimal Physical & Mental Health

    At a time when studies indicate people are getting increasingly less sleep, one thing remains clear: we need to take sleep much more seriously as it is critical to both health and healing.

    Those who don’t get enough sleep are prone to lots of health-related issues that can interfere with quality of life and even life expectancy. This can also interfere with healing, especially when regular exercise, rehab and visits to the physical therapist are necessary.

    Multiple studies show that people who struggle to get enough sleep at night are more susceptible to issues and conditions such as weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, a weakened immune system, and even anxiety and depression.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average adult requires between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. School-aged children 6 to 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours per night, while teens require 8 to 10 hours.

    However, when people wake up tired, then spend the rest of the day longing for a chance to take a nap, it goes without saying that they’re not getting enough sleep. Over time, one will likely find this lack of sleep begins to affect other areas of life, whether it’s mood or a lack of motivation and drive to get things done in their day-to-day activities.

    It can become a spiral if the lack of sleep is not remedied.

    Having trouble getting enough sleep at night? Consider the following tips:

    • Keep a Schedule: Maintain a regular bed and wake-up schedule, even on the weekends.
    • Be Relaxed: Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath, reading a good book or listening to music.
    • Consider the Environment: Create a sleep-conducive environment – on a comfortable mattress – that’s quiet, dark, comfortable and cool.
    • Careful What You Consume: Have your last meal or snack 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, and avoid consuming caffeine, nicotine and alcohol shortly before you go to bed.
    • Cut Off Screen Time: Turn off all lit screens – smartphone, computer, TV, etc. – at least 30 minutes before lying down.
    • Exercise Regularly: It’s no coincidence that people who exercise regularly or who spend their days more physically active often report better sleep than those who are more sedentary.

    Physical therapists like to use the phrase, “movement is medicine,” and exercising for better sleep is one of many examples where this often holds true. Just be sure to complete your exercise regimen a few hours before bedtime.

  2. 5 Exercise Myths for People 55 and Older

    While it’s expected that most older people tend to slow down with age, the notion that seniors and soon-to-be seniors should trade in exercise and their active lifestyles for bingo and rocking chairs is definitely antiquated, say physical therapists.

    And yet, when it comes to exercise for the 55-and-older population, plenty of myths continue to drive people’s actions – or rather, inactions – when it comes to putting in the right amount of sweat equity to stay healthy and active.

    From a physiological perspective, sure, most people are going to start to slow down in various ways as they get older, but that doesn’t mean seniors and soon-to-be seniors should lean into these so-called consequences of aging. Age is just a number, they say. And while one must be mindful about the ways in which they adapt activities to certain age-related limitations, regular exercise remains just as critical later in life as at any other point.

    To help encourage the 55-and-older crowd to continue making exercise a standard aspect of their everyday lives, here is a list of the top five exercise myths when it comes to fitness at an advanced age:

    Myth 1: “It’s Too Late to Start” – It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before now. Even if you’ve never had a regular exercise routine before, it’s never too late to start. “Better late than never” when it comes to exercise isn’t just an adage; it’s a statement backed by multiple studies. Exercising later in life can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

    Myth 2: “My Body’s Too Frail” (aka, “I Might Break a Hip”) – Unless you’ve been told this by a medical professional (i.e., physician or physical therapist) based on a specific condition or injury, this is likely fear talking. Not only does regular exercise help strengthen your body’s stability, balance and flexibility, reducing the chances of a fall, but it can also help strengthen your bones. (More on that later.)

    Myth 3: “I Have Joint Pain, so I Should Stay Away from Exercise” – Again, the opposite is true. According to medical research, it’s crucial people with arthritis partake in regular exercise. Not only does it improve strength and flexibility, but exercise can also reduce joint stiffness and pain while helping sufferers ward off fatigue.

    Myth 4: “I’m Too Old for Weight Training” – Weight training, also known as resistance and strength training, actually takes on a more critical role as you age. Studies show that not only does a stronger body help seniors stay upright and confident, but weight-bearing exercise can also ward off the onset of osteoporosis by helping maintain bone density.

    Myth 5: “I’m Better Off Focusing on My Mind, Not My Body” – Fact is, focusing on the body is focusing on the mind. According to multiple studies, including one published last month in Nature Medicine, exercise improves brain health, helps ward off dementia, and may even slow the progression of dementia. In addition, exercise reduces stress and anxiety, and staying active often equates to a better social life.

    According to 2018 physical guidelines by the U.S. Department of Health, older adults should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus weekly balance and muscle strengthening exercises.

    And while fitness levels and certain limitations shouldn’t keep most older adults from exercise, some exercises may require modifications based on such conditions. Fortunately, a physical therapist can provide personalized guidance based on individual health conditions, movement limitations and physician recommendations.

     

  3. 5 Fitness Tips to Keep Introverts Moving

    If you have a more introverted personality, joining a gym, exercise class or workout group may not be your cup of tea. But, that doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving fitness or weight-loss goals.

    Finding a workout routine that fits your personality is one of the key ways to achieve optimal results. And, that holds particularly true for introverts – those who may be uneasy about joining a gym or a fitness class due to crowds of people, loud music, or the seemingly prying eyes of other members.

    It’s been estimated that one-third or more of the U.S. population falls at least partially into the category of “introverts.” This doesn’t necessarily equate to shyness, however.

    An introvert is more likely to find many social or group interactions draining. In contrast, they are generally more stimulated and energized by personal or alone time.

    If you’re an introvert looking for a little more personal comfort and stimulation when workout out, consider the following advice to help you achieve your fitness goals:

    1. Exercise Solo: If you’re more comfortable by yourself or just don’t feel like dealing with crowds of people at the gym, simply consider fitness options you can do on your own – options like running, swimming, cycling or going for a walk. As exercise itself is energizing, so too is alone time for an introvert’s spirit.
    2. Use the Buddy System: A misconception about introverts is they always prefer being alone. The truth is, introverts enjoy spending quality time with close friends, and this can be beneficial when exploring various fitness options. Bringing a buddy to the gym or a fitness class can make the experience much more positive than going alone.
    3. Seek Inner Focus: Introverts are known for “living in their heads,” so to speak, and often this breeds a level of creativity and personal reflection they find stimulating. So, consider types of exercises known for benefiting the body as well as the inner spirit – activities like yoga, Pilates, tai chi, stretching, deep breathing, etc.
    4. Arm Yourself with Headphones: Sometimes, you just can’t beat access to the space and equipment a fitness club can provide. So, if you just can’t turn your back on the gym, make the experience easier with a good set of headphones. Not only can you choose your own audio motivators (i.e., music, podcasts, books, etc.), but simply wearing headphones can help ward off unwanted conversation.
    5. Stream at Home: Streaming at-home fitness apps have come a long way over the last couple of years. Services like Peloton, Aaptiv, ClassPass, etc., offer professional-level streaming workout programs (and equipment, in some cases) for at-home fitness.

    With all at-home workout programs, however, use caution. While some at-home programs can be good, they can’t provide immediate feedback about incorrect form, movement deficiencies and weaknesses in strength and flexibility that, over time, can lead to discomfort, pain or injury.

    Consider consulting a physical therapist prior to starting a particular plan to ensure it’s not only safe, but also aligns with your goals and fitness level.

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