Inactivity Leading More Doctors to Prescribe Exercise

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Laureen Lowe-Albrecht; Orchard Park Health Care- Centennial
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It’s not surprising that obesity is linked to sedentary activities and there is a known link between sitting and diabetes, heart disease and more chronic conditions. Many experts agree that a sedentary lifestyle is a common cause of increasing waistlines and can be considered a catalyst for diabetes, high blood pressure and joint damage.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau reports, Americans participate about 10 hours per day in sedentary activities consisting of computer work, watching television and driving.  These types of activities are seen as a great health threat and correlates to a higher risk of all-cause mortality – as reported in a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Seventy-five percent of all visits to an MD end with a prescription for medication, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With those kinds of numbers, the real wonder drug could be exercise.  A trend, reported by the Centers for Disease - National Center for Health Statistics, will be more prescribed exercise and healthy lifestyle rewards to be given by health insurance providers.

These rewards have partially led to an increase in health club membership among Baby Boomers.  Many will throw themselves into a workout with the same intensity they give to their retirement activities and ignore the importance of gradually getting accustomed to a fitness regimen.  This kind of thinking can lead to injury and it’s often easier to succumb to an injury with a de-conditioned body rather than a fit body.

Instead of going it alone and risking injury, working out with a doctor prescribed routine and medically licensed therapist may be the safest choice.  Rehab experts at Orchard Park Rehabilitation Center in Centennial, Colorado, report that when out-of-shape people try to exercise, they are more prone to injury because their lack of strength often means they have decreased joint stability.  Those people often lack endurance, may tire quickly and may readily complain of discomfort.

Those patients that need a gradual and improved return to fitness may be better served with exercise and specialized equipment that is formulized specifically for de-conditioned joints, atrophied bones and muscles. With those types of patients, rehab experts do prescribe gravity altered exercise.  Essentially, it means that body weight is partially suspended and reduced during exercise.

Being able to un-weigh the body during exercise is still a novelty in physical therapy gyms but will be a driving trend by those who are unable to comfortably bear weight due to obesity, joint pain or injury. The unique environment and resistance found in the air chamber of a gravity altered treadmill will un-weigh the body up to 80% and greatly improve comfort with less gravitational force.

Rehab equipment and programs have changed significantly just in the last few years and specifically to address the needs and characteristics of injured and aging bodies and/or obesity.  Swiveling seats, handles and bars make it easier to access exercise equipment. 

Instead of picking up a dumb-bell and cranking out 3 sets of 10, rehab experts employ a kinder- gentler form of therapy.  Rehab equipment may use no resistance, three dimensional resistances or pneumatic air resistance in order to progress strength and endurance and to address patient need.

Perhaps the biggest reason to obtain a doctor’s script to exercise is the growing numbers of people who have chronic conditions.  Some conditions, heart or lung disease, mandate an educated practitioner and one who knows the navigation and obstacles presented by chronic conditions.  Rehab experts also have a direct communication pathway with the referring physician.  State law requires regular communication with prescribing physician regarding exercise tolerance and health progression of a patient.

According to local rehab experts at Orchard Park Rehabilitation Center, physical inactivity might best be treated as a medical condition itself rather than simply a cause or byproduct of other medical conditions.