By Dr. Virginia Nsitem
Recently, a patient visited my office with news that she was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease of low bone mass and strength, and an increase your risk for fractures. She said that she started an exercise routine of swimming and yoga to improve her condition, and asked when she would see an improvement in her condition. I explained to her that although swimming and yoga are great activities for health and wellness, they were not exactly the type of exercises she needed to perform to improve her condition. Below are examples of different exercises and how they help with certain health conditions.
Walking is an aerobic activity that many can enjoy, indoors, outdoors, at a track or on a treadmill. Walking helps to prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes and is important for the health of the heart and brain. As a therapy, walking is prescribed to those suffering from osteoporosis as it helps to build bones. I often prescribe walking as therapy for those suffering from chronic pain because it is easy on the joints and you can walk at you own pace. Studies have shown that walking also helps reduce stress.
Biking is an aerobic activity and can be performed indoors with a stationary bike or outdoors. It has been documented that biking helps to lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and lower the risk for other health conditions often associated with obesity. I often prescribe biking as a therapy for those suffering with back, hip, leg and foot injuries or who have difficulty walking comfortably. Some stationary bikes are built with extra support for the low back. Biking helps to build strength in the buttock and leg muscles which can help improve your balance.
Swimming is an activity that is often enjoyed during the summer or in warmer climates. It is an activity that works-out every muscle (if you do a variety of strokes). Swimming can help improve your overall endurance, strength and heart and lung fitness. As therapy, swimming is often prescribed to those suffering with ankle and knee injuries. The joints are able to go through various movements without extra stress from the weight of the body due to the buoyancy of the water. I prescribe swimming as an exercise for those suffering from arthritis and chronic pain such as fibromyalgia. Some facilities have special aqua therapy programs for people with arthritis or other injuries. Studies indicate that swimming can also promote relaxation.
Yoga and Stretching routines
Yoga and stretching are both good exercises for flexibility and balance. Yoga incorporates breathing, balance, and various postures. Stretching can be a daily practice incorporating breathing techniques and slow movements to relax tight or injured muscles. Both yoga and stretching have been shown to lower stress levels and improve overall mood. I often prescribe stretching routines as part of a rehabilitation program to improve the condition of injured muscles or joints.
To lose weight – you need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity. Consider incorporating aerobic exercises (walking or biking) with weight training exercises, followed by stretching.
To improve cardio-vascular health – Combining aerobic exercise (swimming, walking, or biking) with weight resistance exercises helps overall heart and lung health. You may need to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days a weak to improve your overall endurance.
Keep in mind, any time or form of exercise is better than none. However, choose the exercise that best fits your health goals.
In addition, do not ignore your regular check-ups with your family physician. If you are experience joint or muscle pain and discomfort, see your chiropractor for an evaluation.
Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences in Canada. She may be reached at (905) 275-4993, or by email at email@example.com
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