The Benefits of Physical Therapy in Preventing Heart Disease
There are many types of heart disease, including hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease (heart attack), and cerebrovascular disease (stroke), but the most important number is 610,000 – the number of Americans who die of heart disease every year. That’s 1 out of every 4 deaths.
The good news is that most forms of heart disease are preventable by making lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, practicing good nutrition habits and reducing stress in your everyday life.
Still, one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease is by getting active.
How Cardio Helps Strengthen Your Heart
While the word “cardio” might invoke horror in some, cardiovascular or aerobic activity is important for (surprise, surprise) cardiovascular health. Here are a few important things to know about your cardio health:
- The American Heart Association recommends five 30-minute moderate exercise sessions each week.
- The benefits of regular cardio include strengthening your heart and blood vessels, improving the flow of oxygen throughout your body, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease, as well as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and even some kinds of cancer.
- If you’re not sure where to start, don’t feel overwhelmed – cardiovascular activity includes a wide range of activities that get your heart pumping, such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and dancing.
The Importance of Strength Training
Along with cardio, strength training can decrease the risk of heart disease and improve your overall health – here’s how:
- Strength training can speed up the body’s metabolic rate, which can decrease fatty tissue on the body.
- It can also decrease the amount of visceral fat, or belly fat that sits around vital organs, including the heart. Storing excess visceral fat can cause a lot of health problems, including heart disease.
- Studies have shown that strength training twice a week, especially combined with regular cardiovascular activity, can have profoundly positive effects on heart health and overall health.
Physical Therapy Can Get You Moving Again and Keep You Active
Most of us know that exercising regularly is good for our health, but getting started (or restarted) can often be intimidating, and even more so if you’re experiencing pain or recurring injury. It’s not uncommon that pain in the back, neck, knee, shoulder, or other joints and muscles sidelines a person for an extended period of time – and in many cases that periodic injury can slip into permanent inactivity.
Physical therapists are musculoskeletal experts who are trained to get your body healthy enough to start exercising or get back into a routine without pain, as well as create and support an appropriate exercise program for people of all ability levels. Physical therapy services can help get you moving again by:
- Assessing and diagnosing the root causes of pain and injury
- Treating problem areas with customized plans of care that can include a wide range of modern clinical approaches, including manual (hand-on) therapy, exercises and stretches, dry-needling and more.
- Teaching correct form and posture to ensure that you’re performing exercises correctly to prevent future injuries.
Whatever your goals are, don’t let pain stop you from achieving them, especially when it comes to your heart health. Getting back into a routine of cardio and strength training can be a vital part of preventing heart disease down the road, and physical therapy can get you back into action and keep you moving.
If you’re decreasing or avoiding activity because of pain, know that in most cases you can see a physical therapist without a doctor’s referral. OC Sports and Rehab can assess your symptoms and let you know if PT is right for you, or if there are other avenues to moving pain-free again.