The first question I usually ask my patients during the initial meeting is what he or she does for a living. The question is meant for me to determine what position and what stressors are on this person's body for eight hours each day.
The second question I ask is usually about recreation. I want to know if a specific sport or activity is causing their problem or if their ability to participate in sports or recreation is limited. The question about recreation usually leads to questions about exercise. Do you exercise? What do you do for exercise? How often?
I can tell the people who do not engage in regular physical activity. They usually are sitting on the treatment table, and when I ask about exercise they get a sheepish look on their face and say, "I walk." The people who are really walking for exercise tell me that they walk four times a week for thirty minutes. The others just tell me that they walk. What they are really saying is that they walk from their car to work, and then back again at the end of the day.
So how do get into a real walking program, especially when you do not walk regularly or participate in regular exercise? It can be tough, but one PT that I once worked with had her patients do this to get walking:
Get up and walk around the house for two minutes during television commercials. Many folks who are not out exercising or walking regularly are often sitting at home and watching T.V. To get those folks walking, this PT would tell her patients to keep watching T.V., but get up and walk during the commercials.
Three hours of television per night is roughly 10-15 commercial breaks. If you were to walk briskly around the house during those breaks, you would have walked 20-30 minutes by the end of the evening.
And guess what many of the T.V. walkers would do? They would start walking more. They would start turning off the television and start walking around the block. Television commercial walking would turn into real exercise.
This month is National Physical Therapy Month, and physical therapists and PT assistants are focusing this year's celebration on keeping people fit after age 50. If you are not exercising, start today. Turn off the computer (after reading this blog post). If you watch T.V. at night, walk around the house for two minutes during the commercial breaks. Parlay that into walks around the block after work. Once you get moving, you may find it hard to stop.
- Quick Start Walking Guide from Wendy Bumgardner, About.com Guide to Walking: Walking: 30-Day Quick Start Guide for Beginners