Movement – For a long and healthy life! 8/29/15

August, 2015

I’m 4+ months post hip surgery and thrilled with the outcome. We got to get away to the coast earlier this month (Gleneden Beach) and I was thrilled with what I was able to do. Unsure of how my hip would respond to the sand, I started with some short walks on the beach. These short walks progressed to longer and longer walks, an amazing and intense uphill hike towards Cascade Head in Neskowin, and eventually trying some pickle ball. Although my body was sore and stiff (normal for my age and previous inactivity) my hip did GREAT! I can’t express how thrilled and relieved I am!081515Gleneden-Beach-(Blog)

My mom was able to join us for a few days while we were there. Mom and I have a wonderful relationship. We thoroughly enjoy each others company and she’s been my life-long sounding board for all of the ups and downs that are a normal part of life. However, since PT school, I’ve been trying to encourage her to increase her physical activity level. She loves her garden, occasionally does Tai Chi and has attended some classes off and on at the Senior Center (she lives in Bend too!) and she is very conscientious about her diet. Unfortunately, she has never been able to prioritize her physical health.

I see this in many of my patients as well. We can get away with using our bodies for several decades without really attending to them. Yet as we age, if we don’t maintain some strength, flexibility and endurance, there is a point where it becomes more and more noticeable. I wish I knew why some of us are more easily motivated to enjoy the benefits of movement and exercise while others just can’t seem to “fit it in” to their lifestyle. (If I knew the secret to this, I would find my fortune 🙂 ).

When we are young, most of us are constantly growing, moving, and experiencing the limits of what this amazing body can do. Look at the children — they can’t sit or stand still. They wiggle, giggle and play – it’s just what they do! At some point for most people, that natural urge towards experiencing the limits of our movement capacity begins to wane. We go from moving and expanding, to less movement and contracting. This may be simply due to the work and family demands of life, injury, fear, illness, or many things that begin to cause us to limit, doubt, or lose confidence in our physical capacities.

I’ve often told my boys to look at their four grandparents, ages 76-80, for excellent examples of what a lifetime of movement or lack of movement can do. Both our fathers prioritized exercise (in very different ways) throughout their life and they still have excellent endurance and physical abilities – despite my father having experienced a life threatening car accident 10 years ago where he broke over 27 bones and continues with some significant limitations. My mother-in-law, the youngest of the four, has always been a walker, and when she was at the beach with us would take 2-hour walks on the beach followed by a few rounds of pickle ball. My lovely mother, on the other hand, required hand-holding for any walking on non-level surfaces, especially some very short beach walks (which she loved)! Her speed, endurance, and balance is very poor and I worry that one unstable moment could result in an injurious fall.

To be fair, Mom had a serious back injury when she was in her forties. Like many people, I suspect this lead to fear and lack of confidence in what was safe for her to do. She also experienced on-going though mild symptoms that frequently concerned her. Fear may be the number one inhibiter of healthy movement. We now know from the research that movement is essential for many things from weight management, improved energy, sleep, pain management, and much more. Movement is what our bodies are meant to do! (The only thing that might be more, or as important as movement would be the food we eat.)

So what can one do to get motivated to move? First of all, you may need a qualified movement specialist, such as a PT, to help guide you back to safe and fun movement. It can take some good coaching and guidance to help you go from fear to fun! Next, find something you LOVE to do. Admittedly, many exercises can be boring. I’ve been pretty good (not perfect) about my hip rehab exercises, but I set up a TV show that I enjoy while doing them and focus on the goal: being able to hike, enjoy the outdoors, ski, paddle board, or being able to do whatever inspires me without concern of injury. This includes being healthy enough to play with future grandchildren that I hope to have (but hopefully still 5-10 years away). Something I’ve been recommending more and more to my non-exercise patients, is dancing. Put on some of your favorite music, especially music you loved when you were young, as it can release youthful stress reducing chemicals as if you were in your teens again! Then just move! It doesn’t have to be aerobics, just movement and fun! The best part is – no one is watching! 🙂 🙄 

As a PT, I suppose there is something in our make-up where we naturally are the types of people who are motivated to move. We talk about it every day, even every hour with our patients. So in hearing ourselves, we try to follow our own advice. For myself, the gradual downhill slope of inactivity while my hip pain progressed has actually made me more motivated to up my movement and exercise game in hopes of avoiding future injuries.

Although I can’t change my patients long-standing habits of minimal movement and exercise, I can continue to encourage, explore limitations and blocks, and remind people of the importance of gradually pacing themselves as they engage in new movements and exercise. A life time of bodily neglect will not change overnight, but can gradually happen over months and years.

I wish you a long, enjoyable and healthy life of movement. May you find what you enjoy and make a commitment. And if you can’t do what you love, come and see if we can help!


Posted in: Allisons' Blog, Hip Surgery

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