We can’t stop time. Or can we? The right type and amount of physical activity can help stave off many age-related health conditions. Physical therapists, who are movement experts, prescribe physical activity that can help you overcome pain, gain and maintain movement, and preserve your independence—often helping you avoid the need for surgery or long-term use of prescription drugs. Here are 9 things physical therapists want you to know to #AgeWell.
1. Chronic Pain Doesn't Have to be the Boss of You
Each year 116 million Americans experience chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions, costing billions of dollars in medical treatment, lost work time, and lost wages. Proper exercise, mobility and pain management techniques can ease pain while moving and at rest, improving your overall quality of life.
2. You Can Get Stronger When You're Older
Research shows that improvements in strength and physical function are possible in your 60s, 70s, and even 80s and older with an appropriate exercise program. Progressive resistance training, in which muscles are exercised against resistance that gets more difficult as strength improves, has been shown to prevent frailty.
3. You May Not Need Surgery or Drugs for Low Back Pain
Low back pain is often over-treated with surgery and drugs despite a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that physical therapy can be an effective alternative—and with much less risk than surgery and long-term use of prescription medications.
4. You Can Lower Your Risk of Diabetes with Exercise
One in four Americans over the age of 60 has diabetes. Obesity and physical inactivity can put you at risk for this disease. But a regular, appropriate physical activity routine is one of the best ways to prevent—and manage—type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
5. Exercise Can Help You Avoid Falls - And Keep Your Independence
About one in three U.S. adults age 65 or older falls each year. More than half of adults over 65 report problems with movement, including walking ¼ mile, stooping and standing. Exercise can improve movement and balance and reduce your risk of falls. It can also reduce your risk of hip fractures (95 percent of which are caused by falls).
6. Your Bones Wants You to Exercise
Osteoporosis or weak bones affects more than half of Americans over the age of 54. Exercises that keep you on your feet, like walking, jogging, or dancing, and exercises using resistance, such as weightlifting, can improve bone strength or reduce bone loss.
7. Your Heart Wants You to Exercise
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. One of the top ways of preventing it and other cardiovascular diseases is exercise! Research shows that if you already have heart disease, appropriate exercise can improve your health.
8. Your Brain Wants You to Exercise
People who are physically active—even later in life—are less likely to develop memory problems or Alzheimer‘s disease, a condition that affects more than 40 percent of people over the age of 85.
9. You Don't "Just Have to Live With" Bladder Leakage
More than 13 million women and men in the U.S. have bladder leakage. Don’t spend years relying on pads or rushing to the bathroom. Seek help from a physical therapist.