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Health & Exercise Forum

Learn how to keep moving during National Physical Therapy Month!

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Oct 24, 2016

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumOctober is National Physical Therapy Month: Keep on Moving!

October is National Physical Therapy Month. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) would like the nation to recognize the positive role physical therapy plays in your health and wellness. We are passionate about what we do! No, we don’t save lives, but we do save lifestyles and quality of life! PT’s are great people. We have a special gift to provide healthcare unique to our field. For example, while many different health care professionals treat back pain, PT’s are some of the very few working to rehabilitate stroke and head injury victims, amputees, children with cerebral palsy and other serious neurological and orthopedic disorders.

In honor of physical therapy month and the thousands of dedicated physical therapists working hard to keep you healthy and mobile, I would like to offer some suggestions to stay active and healthy, not only at the gym, but throughout the day, even at work.

Remember, we cannot control our gene pool or what happens to our bodies, however, we can control our lifestyles. Research suggests that lifestyle may play the biggest role on how healthy you are and how long you live. The food you eat, what you drink, if you smoke, how active you are and how you handle stress are critical factors that determine your longevity. Research also tells us that smoking, physical inactivity, and poor eating habits are the leading causes of death, in that order.

Physical activity is one of the most important factors in improving a lifestyle in a positive way. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days per week can greatly contribute to longevity. But, the studies also show that engaging in 10-15 minutes of activity 2-3 times per day, is also valuable to your health…even at work!

  1. Get off the Bus! If you can’t walk or bike to work, park a few blocks away or get off the subway or bus a few stops early. Then, walk the remaining distance.
  2. Take Exercise Breaks – Not Coffee Breaks! Instead of a snack and coffee, use the 5-10 minutes to do some simple exercises at your desk. Squat 45 degrees then march in place 10-15 times, and stretch your calves by leaning into a wall.
  3. Trade the Chair!  Every few hours, switch your chair to an exercise ball. It will improve your posture and balance. And, when you take your exercise breaks, you can use it again for core exercises.
  4. Get off Your Butt! Whenever possible, stand up … for phone calls, short, informal meetings, etc. While you are standing, do some stretches for good posture: head over shoulders, pinch shoulder blades, bend backwards.
  5. Bring it to work! There are lots of simple exercise things you can use at for exercise: resistance bands, light dumb bells, exercise mat and ball. Don’t forget the sneakers for your lunchtime walk!
  6. Lunch on the Run! Before or after you eat your healthy lunch (salad, fruit, yogurt), put your sneakers on and go for a walk. If the weather is not cooperating, walk around the building and up the stairs repeatedly for 15-20-30 minutes.
  7. Create a Culture of Wellness! Get a group of coworkers to join you at lunch. One day walk, the next do steps, and another day do yoga and core. There is strength in numbers …more likely to continue the program.
  8. Use New Technology! Get a fitness APP or Personal Fitness Tracker to keep track of your progress.
  9. Use New Equipment! If you or your employer can afford to purchase equipment for your posture and health, consider a ergonomic work station; standing desk, or treadmill desk.
  10. Take it With You! If you travel for work, select hotels with fitness centers, travel with resistance bands, and take your sneakers. Walk around the airport while waiting for flights.

Researchers have found that the benefits of regular physical activity are numerous. Some of the more important benefits are:

  • Loss or Maintained Body Weight
  • Reduces LDL /Raises HDL Cholesterol
  • Improves Circulation and Blood Pressure
  • Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
  • Prevents Bone Loss
  • Reduces Stress/Muscle Tension
  • Lowers Risk of Depression
  • Improves Sleep Pattern
  • Improves Strength and Flexibility
  • Improves Balance/Reduces Risk of Falls
  • Improves Immune System
  • Improves Pain Threshold

Keep moving, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and live long and well!

Source: Mayo Clinic

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum" in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.