2015

More About Back Pain: Sciatica!

The physiotherapist examines or assesses the condition and confirms the diagnosis. He/she also identifies the cause of your sciatica and provides valuable advice to assist you to manage the condition.

An individual with sciatica needs to undergo physiotherapy management in order to restore his/ her
• Muscle strength
• Range of motion of lower limbs
• Posture and flexibility
• Function in activities of daily life
• Muscle tension
When the physiotherapist makes a diagnosis of sciatica he/she puts together a useful programme to deal with it.

In view of the fact that the pain experienced is as a result of pressure on the nerve, the management involves the reduction of the pressure and hence a decrease in the pain.

Therapeutic exercises
Exercise is significant in the management of Sciatica. Stretching exercises will facilitate the reduction of tightness in the lower back, and thigh muscles.

Strengthening your core (trunk) muscles will aid in promoting an enhanced lower back support.

She/he will also provide education on attaining a good posture and how to identify and avoid the bad postural habits during the day.

The adoption of a good posture whilst bending to pick objects from the floor or lifting and carrying objects is essential. These exercises also need to be performed at home to assist in the management of your condition.

Flexibility exercise
This exercise provides flexibility to your back. Lie on your back and place a small cushion beneath your head.

Bend one knee and bring it towards your chest with both hands. Hold position for 30 seconds. Gently lower and straighten your leg and place it on the bed.

Perform the same for your other knee and maintain the stretch. Remember to take in deep breaths and repeat the exercise throughout the day.

You can also bend both knees and draw them towards your chest. Hold position for 20 seconds. You should feel a slight stretch and not pain.

Thigh stretch
This exercise stretches and maintains the thigh muscles. Begin the exercise by standing upright with one leg raised onto a stable surface. Gently lean forwards, whilst you keep your back straight. Hold position for 30 seconds.

You should feel a stretch in your thigh muscles. Alternate stance with your other leg and hold stretch for 30 seconds.

Stretch to the positioning where you are comfortable not in pain. Remember to keep your back straight as you perform this exercise.
The strengthening programme

The Core Strengthening Programme is an exercise protocol that seeks to improve the stability and maintenance of to the spine. This is attained by exercising specific trunk muscles, which may not be frequently utilised.

When those muscles are strengthened, you’d realise that the movement of your hands and legs have more control than they had before.

Sleeping positions
An individual diagnosed with cSciatica would also be cautious about his/her sleeping posture. It’s advisable to sleep on a firm bed which would provide enough support for the back.

Whenever you sleep on your back, place a large pillow beneath both knees and ensure to also place a pillow between your knees when you lie on your side. This ensures that your back gets the needed support.

You also need to adopt a posture that will relax the muscles and provide pain relief.

Prevention
Posture plays a significant role in the prevention of sciatica. Individuals who usually have prolonged sitting and bending routines in which the lower back is constantly placed under a lot of stress should break the routine.

To avert the occurrence or recurrence of sciatica you need to take good care of your back by adopting new postures which maintain the natural curves of your backbone at all times.

The various curves sustain the load-carrying capacity of the backbone, which would be quite difficult if the back bone was straighter.

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Women Should Lift Weights Too!

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Have you ever wondered about how many calories you burn lifting weights? It takes a great deal of energy to strength train like this, specifically when you’re pushing your body above and beyond its normal abilities. However, there are too many assumptions related to the expenditure of calories when you’re lifting weights, which can lead to problems with regard to fat loss–specifically for women.

Anaerobic activity, like lifting weights provides some great benefits, not only for the hope of fat loss, but for toning the body and building muscle as you do burn fat. Most people are beginning to realize that anaerobic activity simply has to be a part of a healthy weight loss plan if one is going to reach long-term goals.

You can believe this: “Strength training can burn fat in ways other exercise simply can not.” It’s a fact. You gain longer benefits following lifting weights than you do just walking or running on the treadmill. The benefits of lifting weights goes on for hours after a workout, even if this is only a 30 minute session.what-are-some-weight-lifting-tips-for-women-1688620130-dec-3-2012-1-600x800

So, how many calories do you burn lifting weight?

We want you to realize that while you need a calorie deficit, this isn’t all about your calories–there is much more. How many calories you burn depends upon your own individual weight, the intensity you’re putting in and where your body stands in general. Everyone is different! Remember, muscle helps boost your metabolism, but running on the treadmill doesn’t do this. In other words, muscle provides continuing fat burn capabilities. This is why it is so important. That, and it simply makes you look leaner and healthier!

Some experts will tell you that the calories burned is dependent more on your weight. Most see a 185 pound person burning about 240 calories for an hour workout, but if they really push out their routine in 30 to 45 minutes, they might burn more than what that hour projects, so it varies. We can’t stress this enough. There simply is no way to be 100% certain exactly how many calories one individual is going to burn lifting weights.

Now, here is something for you to digest. The more muscles you have to put into play for lifting weights, the more calories you’re going to expend and the more health benefits you’re going to acquire. Body weight exercise like squats, lunges, pull-ups and push ups (possibly even bench dips and deadlifts) provide the more serious calorie burn. Lunges in and of themselves can burn a hefty amount of calories, especially if these are long lunges with weights.

Remember to bring in variation to your exercises in hopes of burning even more calories! Now, you don’t want your strength training session to turn into a cardio session, but do focus on the muscle burn to hit fat loss! Don’t waste time and stay focused to get the most from your workout.

Common sense, right? Ultimately, it is always going to depend on you as to how much weight you lose, how much muscle you build and how hefty an impact you have on your body.  Include aerobic activity with anerobic activity and you’ll always have a winning mix!

low back pain

What is Low Back Pain?

Eighty percent (80%) of people will experience lower back pain at some stage of their life. It is one of the most common reasons for people missing work and seeing a doctor or physiotherapist. But lower back pain is something you can avoid with some inside knowledge, back care strategies and some back exercises.

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However, if you choose to neglect your back care, you can be rendered vulnerable to lower back pain, sciatica (leg pain) or other nerve pain from a pinched nerve. Long-term lower back pain can result in permanent conditions such as spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.backpain3

 

Significant acute lower back pain can result from a herniated disc (slipped disc), back muscle pain, back ligament strain or a non-specific lower back pain.

You can also suffer lower back pain associated with systemic conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.

As you can see while lower back pain is common, the diagnosis is specific to you and is best care for with the assistance of a spinal health care such as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist.

Not only can they assist you with acute back pain relief, they can also help you on your way to long-term self management and prevention. This usually includes a thorough back assessment to determine risk factors such and muscle weakness, inflexibility, stiff or unstable joints. They can also advise you when a back brace is suitable or if you are better advised to perform some specific back exercises.

Real-time ultrasound has been used by back pain research in recent years to assist the diagnosis and successful treatment of lower back pain. Real-time ultrasound is now available at leading physiotherapy clinics to assist you and your back pain relief and prevention.

For more information please contact us, your trusted spinal health care practitioner. You’ve only got one back – isn’t it about time you cared for it correctly?

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Lower Back Pain Causes

Lower back pain has many causes. Most lower back pain causes are musculoskeletal in origin and known as non-specific low back pain. Most commonly, these back injuries are caused by muscular strains, ligament sprains and joint dysfunction, particularly when pain arises suddenly during or following physical loading of the spine.

The good news is that you can take measures to prevent or lessen most back pain episodes. Your physiotherapist is an expert who treats and can help you to prevent low back pain.

Early diagnosis and treatment is the easiest way to recover quickly from lower back pain and to prevent a recurrence.

The causes of lower back pain are numerous but roughly fall into either a sudden (traumatic) or sustained overstress injuries.

Most people can relate to traumatic injury such as bending awkwardly to lift a heavy load that tears or damages structures. However, sustained overstress injuries are probably more common but also easier to prevent.

In these cases, normally positional stress or postural fatigue creates an accumulated microtrauma that overloads your lower back structures over an extended period of time to cause injury and back pain.

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Common Lower Back Pain Causes

Back Muscle Strains

Back muscle injuries are the most common form of back injury. Muscle fatigue, excessive loads or poor lifting postures are the most common problems. Inefficient back muscles can lead to poor joint stabilisation and subsequent injury

Ligament Sprains

Ligaments are the strong fibrous bands that limit the amount of movement at available at each spinal level. Stretching ligaments too far or too quickly will tear them with subsequent bleeding into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling and pain. Awkward lifting, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents are very common causes. Just as in other regions of the body, physiotherapy hastens ligament healing and relieves pain so that you can enjoy life again as soon as possible.

Bulging Discs

A bulging disc injury is a common spine injury sustained to your spine’s intervertebral disc. Spinal discs are the shock-absorbing rings of fibrocartilage and glycoprotein that separate your bony vertebral bodies, while allowing movement at each spinal level, and enough room for the major spinal nerves to exit from the spinal canal and travel to your limbs.

The annulus is the outer section of the spinal disc, consisting of several layers of multi-directional fibrocartilaginous fibres all densely packed to create a wall around the glycoprotein filled jelly-like disc nucleus. A disc bulge (commonly referred to as slipped disc), can potentially press against or irritate the nerve where it exits from the spine. This nerve pinch can cause back pain, spasms, cramping, numbness, pins and needles, or pain into your legs.

Bone Injuries

You can also fracture your spine if the force involved is highly traumatic or you have low bone density (eg osteoporosis).

Poor Posture

Poor posture when sitting, standing and lifting at work can place unnecessary stress upon your spine. Muscles fatigue, ligaments overstretch, discs stretch and this places spinal joints and nerves under pain-causing pressure.

 

 

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Lower Back Pain Treatment

With accurate assessment and early treatment, most lower back pain injuries will  respond extremely quickly to physiotherapy allowing you to quickly resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living.

Please ask you physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.

While lower back pain treatment will vary depending on your specific diagnosis, your physiotherapist will have the following aims.

PHASE I – Back Pain Relief & Protection

PHASE II – Restoring Normal ROM and Strength. Early Back Exercises.

PHASE III – Restoring Full Function

PHASE IV – Back Exercises – Preventing a Recurrence

Lower Back Pain Exercises

With the correct lower back pain exercises and specific treatment guided by your physiotherapist, back pain relief is very achievable. Most severe lower back pain sufferers will recover within 4 to 6 weeks. However, this time can vary greatly as it depends on the nature of your back injury, the treatment plan that you develop with your physiotherapist, and how compliant you are with your treatment and lower back pain exercises.

Please ask your physiotherapist for their advice in what will help you most.

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How Can You Prevent Lower Back Pain?

While there are no guarantees, it is well known that active individuals who regularly exercise to maintain normal flexibility and muscle strength to support their spine have the best chance of avoiding lower back pain.

Healthy spine postures and safe lifting techniques at home and at work also reduce your risk of developing lower back pain. Feel free to discuss with your physiotherapist the specific postures and activities that you perform on a daily basis. They will aim to help you to understand how to position yourself and move with the lowest risk of injury

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massage lady 2

How to Give a Back Massage

Two Parts:Setting Up for a Back MassageGiving a Back Massage

While performing an advanced, therapeutic back massage requires plenty of professional training, you can still give someone a relaxing, tissue stimulating massage even without training. By learning some of the basic massage techniques and how to apply them, you can begin giving quality massages at home. One of the most important parts to note is that without professional training, you should apply only light pressure with all of your techniques.

Part 1 of 2: Setting Up for a Back Massage

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    Get a massage table. Using a massage table will give you the best access to somebody’s back, and it’s built for comfort, complete with a face cradle for alignment of the spine.[1] However, if that’s not available, there are a few alternatives.

    • If you don’t have access to a massage table, then you can try using the floor, a couch, a bed, or even a kitchen table if it’s sturdy enough for the person to lie on. Each option has drawbacks that make it less ideal than a massage table, mostly due to comfort issues for the person receiving the massage and height issues requiring the person giving the massage to lean over in uncomfortable ways.[2]
    • If a bed is the best option available, make sure that the suggestion doesn’t come across as inappropriate. Consider the relationship you have with the person and discuss that the massage will take place on a bed beforehand.
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    2
    Place a soft mat down. If you don’t have access to a massage table, and you’re opting for one of the harder-surfaced alternatives, then lay down a soft mat. Use a mat that is at least two inches thick to provide the proper comfort for the person receiving the massage.[3]
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    Spread a sheet over the table or mat. Since the person will dress down most or all of the way for his or her massage, a clean sheet over the mat or table will be both more hygienic and more comfortable for the person. It will also catch any excess oil.
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    Prepare the room. Make sure the room is warm without being hot.[4] This is the ideal atmosphere for the person to relax the muscles you’re trying to massage.

    • Play some uneventful music. New age, ambient music, quiet classical music, or even soundscapes will help the person relax to their fullest. Pulsing, driving music won’t help. Keep the volume low.[5]
    • Turn the lights down just enough so there’s no glare in the room.[6]
    • Light scented aromatherapy candles. This is optional, and you should ask the person before lighting the candles since some people enjoy the smells while others are too sensitive to them.
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    Have the person undress to his or her comfort level. Massage is best given and received without clothing on the area being massaged, especially if you are using oil or lotion. Request that the person undress as much as he or she is comfortable with.

    • Always provide an additional towel or sheet above and beyond the one covering the table. This way the person can lie down and cover the parts of his or her body not being massaged. This will make the environment both more comfortable and warmer, which is relaxing.
    • If privacy is a concern, step out of the room as you have the person dress down and cover himself/herself with the additional towel or sheet. Knock and ensure that the person is ready for reentering the room.
    • If the person left pants or underwear on, you can tuck the edge of the towel or sheet into the waistband to ensure no oil from the massage stains the material.
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    6

    Have the person lie face down. If you have a proper massage table, this means the person’s face will rest in the face cradle.

    • If it’s comfortable for the person, you can also use a pillow or folded towel beneath the ankles. This will support the person’s lower back.
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    Expose the person’s back. If the person wrapped a towel while undressing or pulled the additional sheet all the way up, then fold the material down to expose the person’s back.
woman and child

Kids Health: Cerebral Palsy {Part II}

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

CP may be diagnosed very early in an infant known to be at risk for developing the condition because of premature birth or other health problems. Doctors, such as pediatricians and developmental and neurological specialists, usually follow these kids closely from birth so that they can identify and address any developmental delays or problems with muscle function that might indicate CP.

In a baby carried to term with no other obvious risk factors for CP, it may be difficult to diagnose the disorder in the first year of life. Often doctors aren’t able to diagnose CP until they see a delay in normal developmental milestones (such as reaching for toys by 4 months or sitting up by 7 months), which can be a sign of CP.

Abnormal muscle tone, poorly coordinated movements, and the persistence of infant reflexes beyond the age at which they are expected to disappear also can be signs. If these developmental milestones are only mildly delayed, the diagnosis of CP may not be made until the child is a toddler.

Preventing Cerebral Palsy

In many cases the causes of CP are unknown, so there’s no way to prevent it. But if you’re having a baby, you can take steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy and carry the baby to term, thus lowering the risk that your baby will have CP.

Before becoming pregnant, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and make sure that any medical problems are managed properly. As soon as you know you’re pregnant, proper prenatal medical care (including prenatal vitamins and avoiding alcohol and illegal drugs) is vital. If you are taking any medications, review these with your doctor and clarify if there are any side effects that can cause birth defects.

Controlling diabetes, anemia, hypertension, seizures, and nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can help prevent some premature births and, as a result, some cases of cerebral palsy.

Once your baby is born there are actions you can take to lower the risk of brain damage, which could lead to CP. Never shake an infant, as this can lead to shaken baby syndrome and brain damage. If you’re riding in a car, make sure your baby is properly strapped into an infant car seat that’s correctly installed — if an accident occurs, the baby will be as protected as possible.

Be aware of lead exposure in your house, as lead poisoning can lead to brain damage. Remember to have your child get his or herimmunizations on time — these shots protect against serious infections, some of which can cause brain damage resulting in CP.

woman and child

Kids Health: Cerebral Palsy {CP}

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child’s birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child’s life.

The brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can also lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities.

There is no cure for CP, but treatment, physiotherapy, special equipment, and, in some cases, surgery can help a child who is living with the condition.

About Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing before birth or at birth) disorders of childhood. About 500,000 children and adults of all ages in the United States have the condition.

The three types of CP are:

  1. spastic cerebral palsy — causes stiffness and movement difficulties
  2. athetoid cerebral palsy — leads to involuntary and uncontrolled movements
  3. ataxic cerebral palsy — causes a disturbed sense of balance and depth perception

Cerebral palsy affects muscle control and coordination, so even simple movements — like standing still — are difficult. Other vital functions that also involve motor skills and muscles — such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and learning — may also be affected when a child has CP. Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

The exact causes of most cases of CP are unknown, but many are the result of problems during pregnancy in which the brain is either damaged or doesn’t develop normally. This can be due to infections, maternal health problems, a genetic disorder, or something else that interferes with normal brain development. Problems during labour and delivery can cause CP in some cases. but this is the exception.

Premature babies — particularly those who weigh less than 3.3 pounds (1,510 grams) — have a higher risk of CP than babies that are carried full-term, as are other low birth weight babies and multiple births, such as twins and triplets.

Brain damage in infancy or early childhood can also lead to CP. A baby or toddler might suffer this damage because of lead poisoning, bacterial meningitis, malnutrition, being shaken as an infant (shaken baby syndrome), or being in a car accident while not properly restrained.

To be continued…

need massage

7 Signs You May Need a Massage

We all know that massage therapy feels good and is a healthy reward for our overworked bodies. But, how do you know when you need a massage? I have provided a little cheat sheet for you below.

  1. You haven’t had one for months (or even years): Massage works best when it is received on a regular basis. Most massage therapists would recommend receiving a massage 1x/month for regular maintenance and even more often if you have an injury you are trying to rehabilitate.
  2. You are in training: When you challenge your body physically, you should be treating your muscles to massage therapy. A good clinical massage therapist can help keep you active and injury free.
  3. 7 signs you may need a massageYou have a pain in the neck (or back, or shoulder, or hip…..): Pain is your body’s way of communicating to you that something is wrong. The busier we get, the more we tend to ignore our body’s signals. You don’t want to ignore your pain or your injury could get worse. Make an appointment with a clinical massage therapist and they can help relieve your pain.
  4. You’ve been getting headaches: When the muscles around your shoulders, back, and head get tight tension headaches can begin. Regular maintenance massage can relieve these tension headaches and help promote healthy posture. Massage therapy has been shown to provide some relief for migraine sufferers as well.
  5. You don’t have full range of motion: Maybe you can’t turn your head/neck as far as you once could. Maybe you can’t lift your arm all the way up. Maybe you haven’t been able to touch your toes for a while. Whatever your case may be, if you have muscular restrictions, massage therapy may be able to help.
  6. You don’t get enough sleep: It is amazing how many of my massage clients answer that they sleep ‘poorly’ on their massage intake forms. Sleep is incredibly important! We recover and heal when we sleep. Massage therapy helps promote healthy sleep habits through by promoting relaxation.
  7. You are stressed out: Let’s face it, most of us have a little more stress in our lives than what is probably healthy. One of the best ways to decrease levels of stress hormones and increase levels of endorphins is to get a massage. Massage therapy starts working immediately to help you relax.

To summarize: Massage therapy = less pain, more function, better sleep, and less stress. It’s a no-brainer.

Call physiooncall today for your comprehensive massage session as well as your FREE musculoskeletal assessment today!

feeling sad

FEELING SAD? WORK OUT!!!

Ever wondered about the magic of exercise? Ever wondered why you feeeeel soooo good after a nice session? EUREKA! You have found the solution to the problem right here on Physiooncall.net. We present to you the different factors that are responsible for exercise induced euphoria…

ENDORPHINS
Endorphins are released in the brain whenever you engage in moderate to vigourous exercise. When endorphins lock to special receptors they block transmission of pain signals and also produce a euphoric feeling. They are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression.
Ever heard of the euphoric runners high? It is as a result of endorphins after a VIGOROUS run. Similar to morphine endorphins act as a analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.

endorphin_group_pic_bANTIBODIES
Exercise leads to increased production of antibodies which are a special type of protein produced by the immune system. Increased antibodies help your body fight off viruses and keep you healthy in the long run.

INCREASED OVERALL MOOD
If you ever go for a run after a stressful day, chances are you felt better afterward. The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong, usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood enhancement effect.
A study with over 190 students showed that not only does exercise give students more “pleasure – activated” feelings but they also felt less “unpleasant – deactivated” feelings. Students who did 15 minutes or more of vigourous exercise were in overall better moods than students that did not.

BOOSTED SELF – ESTEEM
Self esteem plays an important role in your day to day feelings. Thats why something as simple as setting fitness goals for yourself and acheiving them can help you boost self-esteem. Ever wondered whya stallion / horse is so gracious and strong…?The answer is because they run. Maybe one of these days we will highlight why you have never seen a fat horse.

HELP CONTROL ADDICTION
The brain releases dopamine,the reward chemical in response to any form of pleasure, be it exercise, sex, drugs, alcohol or food. Unfortunately some people become addicted to dapamine and dependent on the substance that produce it, like drug or alcohol (and more rarely, food and sex ). On the bright side exercise can help in addiction recovery. Vigorous exercise can also effectively distract drug or alcohol addicts making them de-priortize cravings (at – least in the short term.)

So get in that sweat pant and top, kick in some exercise and be happy….!!!

got heaches

Got Headaches? Call a Physio!

Many people are under the impression that there is very little that you can do the help symptoms if you suffer with headaches. Happily, this is not the case.  headache

Usually the origin of a headache is myo-fascial (meaning muscles and connective tissue) and as such treating the myo-fascial structures and ensuring normal mechanical functioning of the neck joints can produce fantastic results.

Over the years we have seen countless patients that seek treatment for neck pain, but not their headaches and are amazed when they realise that once their neck pain has been fixed the headaches settle also.

If you suffer from headaches, why not think about having treatment to address the underlying problem instead of taking pain killers to cover it up. We would be delighted to help.

right dose excercise

What Is The RIGHT Dosage For Exercise?

Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity.

Two new large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect. The studies also found that prolonged or intense exercise is unlikely to be harmful and could add years to people’s lives.
exercise-stretch
No one doubts, of course, that any amount of exercise is better than none. Like medicine, exercise is known to reduce risks for many diseases and premature death.

But unlike medicine, exercise does not come with dosing instructions. The current broad guidelines from governmental and health organisations call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week to build and maintain health and fitness.“But whether that amount of exercise represents the least amount that someone should do — the minimum recommended dose — or the ideal amount has not been certain.

Scientists also have not known whether there is a safe upper limit on exercise, beyond which its effects become potentially dangerous; and whether some intensities of exercise are more effective than others at prolonging lives.

So the new studies, both of which were published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine, helpfully tackle those questions.

In the broader of the two studies, researchers with the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and other institutions gathered and pooled data about people’s exercise habits from six large, continuing health surveys, winding up with information about more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged.

Using this data, the researchers stratified the adults by their weekly exercise time, from those who did not exercise at all to those who worked out for 10 times the current recommendations or more (meaning that they exercised moderately for 25 hours a week or more).

Then they compared 14 years’ worth of death records for the group. They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, had greater longevity benefits and 31 per cent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes a week, or a little more than an hour a day. Those people were 39 per cent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. Those few individuals engaging in 10 times or more the recommended exercise dose gained about the same reduction in mortality risk as people who simply met the guidelines.

They did not gain significantly more health bang for all of those additional hours spent sweating. But they also did not increase their risk of dying young.

The other new study of exercise and mortality reached a somewhat similar conclusion about intensity. While a few recent studies have intimated that frequent, strenuous exercise might contribute to early mortality, the new study found the reverse.

Australian researchers closely examined health survey data for more than 200,000 Australian adults, determining how much time each person spent exercising and how much of that exercise qualified as vigorous, such as running instead of walking, or playing competitive singles tennis versus a sociable doubles game.

Then, as with the other study, they checked death statistics. And as in the other study, they found that meeting the exercise guidelines substantially reduced the risk of early death, even if someone’s exercise was moderate, such as walking.

But if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality. Those who spent up to 30 per cent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were nine per cent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately.

Those who spent more than 30 per cent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 per cent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat. The researchers did not note any increase in mortality, even among those few people completing the largest amounts of intense exercise.

Of course, these studies relied on people’s shaky recall of exercise habits and were not randomized experiments, so they can’t prove that any exercise dose caused changes in mortality risk, only that exercise and death risks were associated.

Still, the associations were strong and consistent and the takeaway message seems straightforward, according to the researchers.

Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to “reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity,” said Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study. And a larger dose, for those who are so inclined, does not seem to be unsafe, he said.

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