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Best Way To Prevent Disease

Posted by Vicki on 06/21/2016

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 therapist's 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. For those who are overweight or obese or have a physical disability, physical therapists can perform an evaluation and devise safe exercise programs that increase strength and cardiovascular endurance, restore flexibility, and reduce pain when it exists.  For people with type 2 diabetes, physical therapists can help reduce the need for medications, lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and help manage glucose levels, among other benefits, through safe and appropriate physical activity.

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.