By Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS
Cooler temps are descending on most of the country and daylight is waning. For many of us, winter will contain many days that are inhospitable to outdoor physical activity, which has become critical during the pandemic. If you are working from home, you might only take 2,000 steps a day without a concerted effort to engage in physical activity.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, as well as two days per week of strength training. And don’t forget about your balance and flexibility!
Chances are that your physical activity status has taken a hit during the pandemic, but you may not even realize that you have lost strength, mobility and/or flexibility until you are challenged by an activity that used to be easy!
If you are wondering how your strength and flexibility are holding up, I encourage you to take the Fit Factor self-assessment, which will demonstrate how your physical health compares to others and identify the gaps in your physical activity plan!
Once you know your needs, begin to make a plan for improving your physical activity status or sustaining your current routine through inclement weather. For me, that meant purchasing more wind-resistant and waterproof gear, as well as purchasing some resistance bands for home.
We also invite you to join our virtual wellness classes, offered several days each week, or exercise with one of our instructors privately in our clinically cleaned and sanitized gyms. In a pinch, the 7-Minute Workout series from the New York Times can also help meet your needs!
If you have been less active than usual this year, consider the following reasons to see your physical therapist to coordinate your fitness regimen. Physical therapists aren’t just for people that are injured or have had surgery. Physical therapists can also help healthy people improve their fitness.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider seeing yours:
1. You Want a Baseline
When you see a physical therapist to improve your fitness, you will receive an assessment of your strength, range of motion, posture and movement patterns. This not only helps your physical therapist design a customized program just for you, it gives them a baseline to compare things to in the future should you start having pain or suffer an injury.
2. You Want Expert Guidance
Sure, other professionals could help with your fitness routine, but qualifications across the fitness industry vary greatly. Some certifications just require an online course and paying a fee. Becoming a physical therapist requires at least a bachelor’s degree and most PTs practicing today have a doctorate. Every PT has passed a national board exam and maintains a state license. That guarantees you that every physical therapist is a verified expert in human movement.
3. You Want to Prevent Injury
Physical therapists don’t just work to heal injuries, they are also experts in preventing them.
After a thorough assessment, a PT can help you design a program that will not only help you
reach your fitness goals, but that can address any issues that increase your risk for injury.
4. You Want Unbiased Advice
Yoga instructors will suggest yoga. Pilates instructors will suggest Pilates. Strength coaches will want you to strength train. A physical therapist doesn’t have a bias as to what type of fitness regimen you choose. They are only interested in helping you reach your goals.
5. You Have a History
If you have some kind of history that affects your ability to exercise, a PT is the best person to help you design a fitness regimen. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old injury from athletics or work, back pain that comes up from time to time, COPD, arthritis or heart disease, a PT can help you safely work around it and meet your fitness goals.
Angela Wilson Pennisi is a physical therapist and founder of PhysioPartners.