Exercise IS Medicine!
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Mike Alpert: I thought that it might be a good idea to have a medical professional write, in his words, his thoughts on how important exercise is and why exercise really IS medicine. So, here are Dave Johnson's words. Dave is the Owner and Physical Therapist of Evergreen Physical Therapy.
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There are a few situations that people find themselves in where exercise may not be good medicine. However, those situations are few. At least, they are fewer than some think. At some level, with moderate dedication and clear guidance, most conditions that people face in their lifespan would be best served with a good and regular dose of exercise. And, the perks far outweigh the risks.
As a physical therapist for nearly three decades, my eyes have seen, my ears have heard and my hands have touched thousands upon thousands of individuals suffering from some sort of pain, mobility challenge or a post-operative state. One learns a lot along the way. I'd dare say that, at this stage of my career in healthcare, I've learned as much or more directly from the people in front of me than from my formal education. My patients teach me daily. We help each other learn.
That said, most of the people seeking help in a physical therapy clinic realize that exercise is warranted, and it is about to be prescribed. Many don't like it, but they're aware that they might be in our office due to that very fact. Many people have some sort of vague "wish" that they would have done something earlier or differently. Nearly all have questions about causes and effects that caused their problem. A good number arrive with some worry about the future or of a recurrence.
Daily, we hear of folks near a point of giving up or accepting their state as "it-is-what-it-is." In those with Parkinson's disease, and most other chronic conditions, physical therapists are alert to issues of "cognitive fatigue." Brain research looks at the "load" of accomplishing tasks. When simple tasks are not automatic. In other words, when they require a great deal of cognitive effort, then there is a very real grain "bandwidth" shortfall, which may create a barrier to exercise. As amazingly complex as it is, the brain can only do so much, and great effort in merely standing, walking or avoiding falls can cause a mental taxation that is very real. Even if the fitness space is accessible physically, the barrier may be a cognitive staircase without rails.
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