Did you know that physiotherapy and exercise don’t only help with bad backs and broken limbs, but also with managing serious diseases like cancer and heart conditions?

And research shows that physical activity reduces the risk of more than 25 chronic conditions, from hypertension to diabetes. Inactivity is responsible for half of people’s decline in functioning between ages 30 and 70. Therefore, by becoming fit, we can cut the “symptoms” of aging in half.

Take cancer: it’s common for patients and their family members to assume that patients should rest as much as possible or that physical activity could be harmful to treatment. Certainly, rest is very important while fighting cancer, but exercise is one of the most effective ways to combat fatigue, often the worst side effect of the disease or its treatment.

You don’t have to run a marathon to experience the benefits. If a slow walk down the street is all you can manage, start there. You might find that you can do a little more the next day.

There are few hard and fast rules against exercising during cancer treatment, except to avoid chlorine while going through radiation (sorry, swimmers — it’s irritating to the skin!) or while you have an IV or chemo port, and make sure you’re not exposing yourself to a lot of public germs if your white blood cell counts are low during chemo. Otherwise, common sense prevails, which means don’t push yourself too hard, too fast, and don’t put yourself in a situation where you might take a tumble. I suggest working with a physiotherapist who has experience with cancer treatments and their side effects.

For those with heart disease, exercise can be incredibly helpful. For example, people with high blood pressure who were studied walking to work experienced a 12 per cent drop in blood pressure for every 10 minutes they walked. Exercise and physiotherapy can strengthen your heart, get the blood pumping more efficiently and cut down on breathlessness. Lifting light weights is great for your blood circulation, and some research shows that people who lift weights have lower rates of dementia. (We’re not sure why that is.)

And, of course, lifting weights helps to build bone mass for people with osteoporosis or osteopenia. But you don’t have to bulk up in the gym — you could start by grabbing a can of soup in each hand and walking around the block. Raise the cans over your head to increase the challenge, or pump them up and down slowly. When you’re ready, graduate to something heavier from your kitchen, like a two-pound bag of rice.

In my career as a physiotherapist, I’ve seen that almost nobody is beyond exercise — and often, the people who think they are too ill to be active benefit the most from it. Just by adding some very gentle movement, I’ve seen people with COPD, a serious lung disease, who were once bedridden, able to walk to their mailbox or visit neighbours. That’s a huge improvement in their quality of life. Think about what exercise can do for the person experiencing the usual aches and pains of aging.

Cooler weather is coming — let that be your motivator to add more movement to your life.

Originally Posted By:

https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/opinion/2018/09/03/how-physiotherapy-and-exercise-can-help-you-age-better.html

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