Get your Body Moving this Spring

Three women holding a plank pose

By: Tina Keppy, PT, MPT, RN

It’s natural to lose muscle as you age. In fact, after age 30 you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% of your muscle per decade. Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle, which most people have experienced during this last year of the pandemic, can accelerate your muscle loss.

The COVID pandemic disrupted many people’s exercise routines, curtailing activities and options to work out in public spaces like gyms and pools. With many individuals working from home, the lack of commuting steps certainly has taken a toll on daily movement. The mental stress of the pandemic has also led some people to engage in other less healthy behaviors, such as overeating.

Spring is the perfect time to prioritize your health and positively impact your body by focusing on your flexibility, strength training and cardiovascular exercise—even from home.

Focus on Flexibility

As you age, your body loses water content in your tendons making the tissue stiffer and less flexible. Flexibility is an important part of all of your daily activities such as walking, bending or lifting. It’s often a part of physical health that individuals forget about.

Flexibility is important as it allows our muscles to remain mobile. If they are not utilized, muscles will naturally lose strength and size becoming less elastic. It’s important to take time and be intentional about stretching muscles that tend to be shortened if not regularly utilized including: neck, upper trap, levator scapulae, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings and posterior hip.

Start Strengthening

Often people think strength training requires getting a gym membership or purchasing weights. It does not. Often your own body resistance is the best tool in strength training, and strength training can be directly related to functional activities like picking up small kiddos or laundry off the floor.

The key to strength training is to begin at the appropriate level for you and build up from there. Trying to lift too much, or push too hard, is sure to result in an injury. A few simple exercises to start with include: core strengthening, squats, lunges and push-ups.

Keep in mind that technique is always more important than the number of repetitions. Focus on doing activities correctly - you will get greater benefit and avoid injury.

Kick Up Cardio

Of course, you can kick up your cardiovascular exercise at home by taking a walk outside, jogging up and down your home stairs or jumping rope in your driveway. But by simply increasing your strength training activities and decreasing your rest periods you will improve your cardiovascular endurance without any expensive equipment! Doing your strength training in intervals and working small cardio activities into your daily routine is an easy way to see results and make lasting changes.

Broadlawns Physical and Occupational Therapy

We know that injuries happen, and when they do Broadlawns Physical and Occupational Therapy is here to provide you with a personalized treatment plan for your specific condition. A wide variety of physical therapy services are available at the Broadlawns Main Campus, East University Clinic and Cityville Clinic. In each session, a therapist will work with you one-on-one. Our priority is for you to feel comfortable and confident during your treatment.

During your initial appointment, your therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to assess your range of motion, strength and movement patterns to determine the root cause of your condition. Did you know that knee pain could actually be coming from a problem with your ankle or hip?

Following your initial evaluation, we will develop a plan of care based on your personal goals and physical abilities. Your therapist may use manual therapy techniques to help improve joint and tissue mobility so your muscles can work as efficiently as possible. You may also be given exercises that will allow you to continue your therapy at home. By the time you complete your therapy program, you will have the knowledge and tools to help care for yourself and prevent re-injury.

Broadlawns Physical and Occupational Therapists have specialized training and have worked with athletes of all kinds: Olympic, Professional, Division I, as well as weekend warriors, including parents of young children!

To schedule an appointment with Broadlawns Physical & Occupational Therapy, please call (515) 282-5621. All insurances are accepted.