Begin Your Exercise Program at Physical Therapy

Today is Senior Health and Fitness Day!  Many people may find exercise overwhelming.  It is hard to join a gym where everyone else seems to “know what they are doing” and you do not.  It is often hard to figure out where to start.  It is even more difficult when you have a history of pain, injury or medical condition that may prevent you from activity.  Fear of aggravating an old injury is common and often prohibits people from losing weight and becoming healthy.

“Have No Fear, TBTW Is Here!”

Physical therapy is a great way to begin your exercise program safely.  A skilled physical therapist can help you achieve your goals safely.  A physical therapist can design an exercise program to achieve your goals, maximize your results and allow you to lose weight without increasing old pains.


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There are many different forms of exercise that a physical therapist can incorporate into your program to maximize the benefit and protect your body.  Some of these include:

  • Lumbar Stabilization: This is the form of training that pilates is based upon.  This allows trunk and abdominal strengthening without bending your back.  At all times the neutral spine position is maintained.  Progression to the next exercise generally depends on learning to maintain the neutral spine properly during the current exercise.  The physical therapist or exercise therapist is trained to help the patient learn the proper technique.  This is ideal for people with low back pain, sciatica, scoliosis, or arthritis/deformities of the spine and has a great success rate!
  • Pilates: This has become a very popular form of exercise.  This will increase core muscle strength and provide a lengthening effect of your muscles.  The weight of your body is used as a resistance.  It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing to relieve stress and allow adequate oxygen flow to muscles, developing a strong core or center and improving coordination and balance. It combines breathing techniques, static holds, and slight oscillations of limbs to increase stability.  It is a great way to burn calories and build strength without gaining bulk.  Great for athletes, dancers, and those with arthritis.
  • Yoga: Yoga has been practice for more than 5,000 years, and currently, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying its health benefits.  This low impact exercise provides as much relaxation as it does strengthening.  Although it may not feel like you are “doing anything” during yoga, you will know you have worked up a sweat when you are finished.  It uses the body’s own weight as resistance.  One of the greatest benefits is each pose provides stretching, lengthening, and strengthening at one time…in multiple places!  It is ideal for people with arthritis, osteoporosis, osteopenia, or other bone disorders.  It is also a great choice during pregnancy.
  • Strength Training: Strength training keeps your muscles toned.  It can also build them up to increase muscle mass.  If practiced safely, weight training is a great way to build up strength and endurance.  Unlike aerobic training, resistance training helps build more muscle mass by creating small micro tears in the muscle.  New muscle grows back over the tears and the muscle becomes stronger.  This type of exercise is the most likely form of exercise to cause injury.  This should not be started without clearance from your physical therapist or doctor.
  • Aerobic Endurance Training: Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, which in turn increases your endurance.  It is also the best type of activity for burning calories and fat, and can help reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.  This type of exercise requires proper functioning of the heart, lungs, and controlled medical issues such as diabetes.  Your physical therapist can determine whether this type of exercise is safe for your body.  The goal is to add aerobic training into your exercise program slowly and gradually.  Your physical therapist can help determine the appropriate level and type of aerobic training to incorporate into your exercise program.

Remember, the best way to begin any form of exercise is with the guidance of a trained professional. Whichever form of exercise you prefer, a skilled physical therapist can get you started on a safe and effective program.  For people with less complex medical history, an evaluation to develop your program and one follow up visit to ensure correct performance of the program is all that you may need.  For more intense pains or complex medical problems, you may want to more supervised visits to ensure you are progressing well.  Ultimately the goal is to have each person progress to performing their program independently, no matter how complex the situation.  Contact your physical therapist or doctor with any questions you may have about beginning your exercise program.


Blogger: Dr. Sara S. Morrison, PT, DPT, CDT, FCE, CFT, Cert DN, Cert FMT