The Impact of a Sedentary Lifestyle

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented healthcare crisis, as, over the past several weeks, we have witnessed an entire population being asked to remain at home and limit their social interactions. During this time, the activities of even the fittest individuals have been restricted, replaced with more opportunities for inactivity, as well as sedentary behavior.

A study (Krogh-Madsen et al. 2010) involving a group of healthy young males reduced their number of steps per day from a baseline of 10,000 to just 1,350 steps for a period of 2 weeks. After just 2 weeks of reduced activity, the test subjects showed a 7% decrease in
maximal oxygen uptake, an indicator of By Khushbu Dhimmer, PT, DPT cardiorespiratory fitness and also lost 3% of their lean leg mass.4 The study is a lesson that even a short-term reduction in activity levels can impact overall health. As restrictions begin to ease, many people will begin to increase their activity levels, and it is important to start slow and build up to your pre-pandemic exercise regimen. Adopting a program of stretching prior to exercise can get you moving in the right direction, but in some cases after a period of inactivity, you may encounter the onset of pain.

Pain is a protective perception of the brain; nonetheless, it is real and can limit functionality in areas such as walking, sitting, sleeping, running, and sport-specific movements. Many years of research have proven physical therapy to be an effective treatment to not only combat aches and pains but to find and fix the source of the issue. Physical therapy is not only for individuals suffering acute pain from an injury, it can also provide life-altering benefits for individuals dealing with persistent or “chronic” pain. Successful pain management with physical therapy consists of four “hallmarks” included in treatment: patient education, patient-centered goals, aerobic/strengthening exercise, and manual therapy.

Exercise can be an effective tool for pain management and improving function when utilized correctly. In a thorough examination, Excel physical therapists are able to appropriately dose (frequency, duration, intensity) physical exercise, which can significantly improve pain and related symptoms¹. Manual therapy, in conjunction with exercise, also provides therapeutic benefits to the body. It can assist with tissue healing, improve mobility and increase functional movement, which can alter pain levels to improve the quality of a patient’s life.

At Excel Physical Therapy, our one-hour, one-on-one initial evaluations allow the therapist and the patient to quickly develop a trusting and positive connection, which research studies have shown to contribute to a successful recovery². Furthermore, the option of one-on-one treatment sessions provides the patient and the physical therapist the opportunity to individualize treatment plans to achieve patient-centered goals, as well as educate the patient on the root causes behind their injury or pain. Current evidence supports the use of traditional physical therapy treatments to reduce aches and pain; however, understanding what pain is can positively amplify the impact of physical therapy treatments. At Excel, physical therapists take the time to “explain pain” to our patients, which can directly correlate to the reduction of the patient’s pain or symptoms.³

If you are experiencing pain and limitations in your function, please contact one of our many locations and schedule an appointment to begin your road to recovery today!

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1. Ambrose KR, Golightly YM. Physical exercise as non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain: Why and when. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2015;29(1):120‐130. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2015.04.022 2. Bunzli S, McEvoy S, Dankaerts
W, O’Sullivan P, O’Sullivan K. Patient Perspectives on Participation in Cognitive Functional Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain. Phys Ther. 2016;96(9):1397‐1407. doi:10.2522/ptj.20140570 3. Van Oosterwijck J, Nijs J, Meeus M, et al.
Pain neurophysiology education improves cognitions, pain thresholds, and movement performance in people with chronic whiplash: a pilot study. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2011;48(1):43‐58. doi:10.1682/jrrd.2009.12.0206 4. Krogh-Madsen,
R., Thyfault, J. P., Broholm, C., Mortensen, O. H., Olsen, R. H., Mounier, R., … Pedersen, B. K. (2010). A 2-wk reduction of ambulatory activity attenuates peripheral insulin sensitivity. Journal of Applied Physiology, 108, 1034–1040.


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