Movement Matters: Musings on Spring 2016

April Showers Bring May Flowers…

April showers bring May flowers, but all too often pain as well. Now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the time of year that we begin to see many folks who have been inspired by the unseasonable nice weather, and who promptly overindulge. Be smart about increases in activity or vigor of exercise or yardwork. Rather than putting a stoic 8 hours into a Saturday home or lawn and garden cleanup, you would be much better served by spending 2 hours on 4 days to gradually let yourself acclimate to the bending, reaching, stooping, squatting and kneeling involved in spring cleaning. And, perhaps enjoy it more in the process.

How Many Steps to Good Health?

On our recent trip to Spain, we walked a total of 156,000 steps in 12 days. Wow, my feet hurt a little just thinking about it. Averaging 13,000 steps a day would appear to be a robust amount of training when compared to the recommended 10,000 steps daily. However, let’s look closer at these numbers.

  • 10,000 steps a day is a worthy goal, but what is your baseline? If your typical work, recreation, and walking the dog average more than 10,000 steps a day, then that number is your baseline. To see additional health benefits, you will need to increase your steps beyond your baseline by 10-20%. The example below illustrates that 10,000 steps may not be enough for you.
    • One month baseline: 12,000 average daily steps
    • Goal for fitness related benefit: 13,200 to 14,400 steps a day, a 10-20% increase
  • What if your baseline month indicates that you are well below 10,000 daily steps?
    • One month baseline: 5,000 average daily steps
    • Initial goal for fitness related benefits: 5500 to 6000 steps a day, a 10-20% increase
    • After achieving a higher goal over the next week or month, reapply the concept of increasing output by 10-20%, as long as you are comfortable, for example:
      • New baseline 6000 average steps a day after one month
      • New goal for fitness related benefit: 6600 to 7200 steps, a 10-20% increase
  • Consider the quality of the steps counted. Clearly, hiking on a trail or walking briskly down the street are both more beneficial than shuffling along in the grocery store or at work. By putting a premium on ‘quality steps’, you can work towards the spirit of increasing steps, rather than just chasing a number of steps.
  • Finally, one needs to consider food intake as part of the equation when celebrating an increase in steps, particularly if weight loss or maintenance is one of your goals. Rest assured, if I averaged 25% more steps a day than my baseline on our trip to Spain, I made up for it in el jamon and Manchego cheese consumption!



Physical Therapy as Effective as Surgery in Cases of Spinal Stenosis:

In a recent study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients with a type of back problem called spinal stenosis fared equally well with physical therapy or surgery over a two year period. In addition, the physical therapy was significantly less costly and had minimal side effects when compared to the surgical intervention. Dr. Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications, reported the results in his article in the Harvard Health Blog.

Below is a link to a basic series of exercises that we find helpful for patients with spinal stenosis. If you would like more specific information regarding your individual care, you can contact one of our offices for an appointment with one of our 14 Physical Therapy providers.