Physical Activity – The Magical Pill
Are you looking for a magical cure for several chronic conditions that is easy and cheap? Physical Activity is the magical pill you have been looking for!Physical Activity is the magical pill you have been looking for! #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Benefits of physical activity have been well documented in the scientific research and range from sleep, skin quality, bone health, heart health, respiratory health, brain development, mental health and a huge range of musculoskeletal conditions! Exercise is often more effective than surgery, oral medication or manual therapy for pain relief having especially miraculous effects on shoulders and low backs!
The best thing about physical activity is that it is often free! Walking is one of the most effective forms of physical activity for people with chronic low back pain! The best exercise for you is one that is going to get done, so no matter if you Iike riding your bike, tai chi, Kung fu, surfing, mountain climbing, Irish dancing, going to the gym or juggling coconuts, rest assured it is going to be good for you.
If you are a little less self motivated to be involved in something that makes you sweat a few times per week, then maybe a class is for you? Locking in a time to attend something is a great way to commit to weekly physical exercise, plus doing it with other people is a great way to share the burden. Other great ways to get motivated include doing something with a few friends, joining a team or organisation, setting goals to achieve and making it as fun as you can!
Do you know what the minimum recommended amounts of intentional physical activity are? (This does not include un-intentionally being active such as chasing children around the house or cooking meals)
If yes, well done! You are one of the few people that know 150 mins of moderate physical activity or 75 mins of intense physical activity with a minimum of 2 sessions of a resistance based exercise per week is the minimum recommended dose (you can always do more!)
Shockingly only 10% of Australian Physiotherapists know the minimum recommended dose of physical activity and even fewer abide by it. I wonder if dentists floss their teeth?
We don’t want to be a part of the 10%, and although we try not to force feed exercise it is our duty to educate people on the amazing benefits.
We also feel it is super important to live and die by the sword, we love to exercise!We also feel it is super important to live and die by the sword, we love to exercise! #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
Along with the plethora of benefits that exercise brings us is the less important benefit of reducing many musculoskeletal symptoms, such as pain. Exercise therapy is widely regarded as the most effective intervention against painful conditions that has ever been invented. Shoulders, hips, knees, backs, elbows, heads and ankles can all benefit from exercise as a treatment.
Sometimes it helps if this exercise is specific and targeted with particular repetitions, intensities, frequencies and duration. Tendons are a common example of this, although the world is always trying to figure out the optimum amounts of exercise, we have a broad idea of which ranges will be most effective.
Other body parts or problems can cope with a much broader brush when recommending exercise! The lower back (specifically chronic pain), is one area of the body that has shown huge benefits to a wide range of exercise interventions; from yoga to walking and weight lifting! This is when the skill of your physiotherapist really comes in to play; because the most important part of your new exercise plan is adherence. If your physio can find an activity that you are likely to stick to (and maybe even enjoy!) then the benefits will be huge. Conversely, if your physio is unaware of things you like and dislike and not connected with you as a person, then the exercise is unlikely to create a lasting effect.
So just remember, exercise is great, know your recommended doses of intentional exercise, and when being recommended an exercise for treatment of musculoskeletal pain make sure your therapist knows the person behind the body part.
Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog
Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence
Darren E.R. Warburton, Crystal Whitney Nicol, Shannon S.D. Bredin
CMAJ Mar 2006, 174 (6) 801-809; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.051351
Gordon, R., & Bloxham, S. (2016). A Systematic Review of the Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. Healthcare, 4(2), 22. http://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare4020022