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Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Over the last year and a half, COVID has certainly made the importance of health very clear. We have all seen how quickly things can change with an illness.

While COVID is currently front and center in most people's thoughts, it isn't the only medical thing out there that can change your life. Heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and cancer can all be devastating diagnoses too.

Movement offers a defense

If you're looking to be more resilient and defend yourself against these things, physical activity can do it. The dangers of being sedentary are well known and excessive sitting and sedentary time have even been called "the new smoking".

For many of us, sitting and being inactive is part of our jobs, especially for people who work from home. However, research has shown that getting in enough movement during the day can counteract the negative effects of being sedentary.

A large study done in the U.K. found no association between the amount of time people spent sedentary and their chances of illness. But the authors didn't conclude that being sedentary is OK. Instead, they felt their findings were likely "attributable to a protective effect of the high volumes of daily walking." The study was conducted in London, where people tend to spend much more time walking or standing than average. The people in the study had daily walking times that were over double the average amount reported in the U.K. So if you're spending a lot of time sitting for work, be sure to take a walk or do some other exercise.

Physical Therapists Are Unequaled Experts in Human Movement

While walking was the activity in this particular study, other research has shown that all kinds of movement can help protect your health. If you're looking to get those protective benefits for yourself you could choose to walk, bike, lift weights, dance or garden. If you're not moving as much or as well as you'd like, see a physical therapist. PTs are the most qualified professionals on the planet to help you move better and allow you to stay healthy and enjoy life. From designing a program to get you started or moving more, to helping you recover from an injury, your PT is the right person to look to for help.

If you're in the Durham, NC area and want someone to help you on this journey, schedule a free consultation here. I'd love to help!

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Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Many people know that physical therapists often recommend exercise as part of their treatment. What most people don’t realize is how simple that exercise can be. Instead of complicated workouts, heavy weightlifting, or running for miles, for people who are new to exercise, or have other limitations, physical therapists often recommend walking.

While it may seem like an easy exercise, walking has powerful health benefits. Walking 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week has been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance and reduce blood pressure and weight. Lots of people are using activity trackers and apps to track the steps they take during their daily activities, and this has been shown to have benefits too. These benefits include reducing disability and pain associated with conditions like knee osteoarthritis. While many people aim for 10,000 steps per day, research shows that as little as 6,000 steps a day can reduce pain and disability while boosting cardiovascular health.

If you’re thinking about starting a regular walking program or just increasing the amount of walking you do throughout the day, it’s important that you do it the right way.

The general recommendation for building any physical activity is to take whatever amount of the activity you do in a week and increase it by 5% or less per week. A good general starting place for someone who is new to exercise would be 3,000 steps per day, and an example program following the 5% rule might look like this:

Week 1: 3000 steps (1.5 miles)

Week 2: 3150 steps

Week 3: 3300 steps

Week 4: 3500 steps (1.75 miles)

Week 5: 3750 steps

Week 6: 4000 steps (2 miles)

Week 7: 4200 steps

Week 8: 4500 steps (2.25 miles)

Week 9: 4800 steps

Week 10: 5000 steps (2.5 miles)

Week 11: 5250 steps

Week 12: 5500 steps (2.75 miles)

Week 13: 5800 steps

Week 14: 6000 steps (3 miles)

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to walk the recommended 6,000 steps a day, you can always visit a physical therapist for a review of your medical history and baseline testing to find out what a safe level for you to start at would be. A PT can also help you design a program to safely meet your goals.

One last thing to consider is footwear. Although walking is less stressful than running, it’s still important to take care of your feet. Shoes designed for running work well to cushion and support your feet when walking too. If you need help picking the right pair, a PT can help and so can the staff at a good specialty running store.

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In the summer, I love getting closer to nature while hiking and camping, but I have learned that I don’t love sleeping on the hard ground as much as I did as a child, and I bet you don’t either. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available to have a comfortable get away to nature.

Get off the ground.

My biggest complaint about camping, and the thing we’ll spend the most time on, is problems with sleeping on the ground on the rocks and roots. There are 3 main ways we can overcome this

  1. Get a good pad, or mattress for inside a tent: For this you have many options, and you may want to try things out to see what works best for you. Some ideas to get you started include Pilates mats, inflatable sleeping pads, foam mats, or even air mattresses.

  2. Use a camp cot: For those of you who have a hard time getting off the ground or are stiff in the mornings this may be your best option. Camp cots, also known as scout cots or army cots, generally have a metal frame with canvas strung across it. You can use an extra pad if you’d like, and they even can make a good emergency bed if you have people over.

3. Try Hammock Camping: For those of you who want to pack lighter or want to feel closer to the trees, hammock camping may be your answer. Camping hammocks are smaller and lighter than your typical backyard hammock, and with some bug netting and a tarp, make for a good night’s sleep. In fact, this is what I usually use when camping. Just be sure to use webbing and not rope around the trees you use so they’re protected.

Bring a good chair

In car campgrounds the table may not be as important, but you will want to have a good camp chair. Sling chairs work well for many people but there also chairs that fold down to the same size that have solid arms which may be better for you if you have a hard time getting out of chairs. If you’re backpacking, you may want to use you a hammock or folding stool as a chair (just be mindful that you don’t eat where you sleep in bear country).

Use Hiking Poles

If you find yourself dreading the downhills, worried about your balance on uneven terrain, or want a little more support for creek crossings, hiking poles may be your answer. Using one or two you can offload some pressure on your knees and get more stability on uneven or slippery surfaces.

If you want some guidance on how to get stronger for your outdoor adventures, schedule a free consultation.

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