If you’re living with obesity (i.e., a BMI of 30 or higher), you know that exercise can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even painful—especially if you’re injured—which makes your couch that much more inviting. But as Newton’s first law reminds us, when you stop being active, you tend to stay that way, which causes a number of issues, including:
- Loss of muscle and flexibility
- Decreased endurance
- Stiff joints
- Weight gain
- Chronic pain
To make matters worse, the additional pressure you put on your body by carrying so much extra weight makes you particularly vulnerable to certain injuries—like osteoarthritis, herniated discs, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis (not to mention a whole heap of health conditions, including cancer, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes). If you’re struggling to reach a healthy weight, or if obesity is impeding your recovery from injury or chronic medical conditions—like Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, or multiple sclerosis—physical therapy can help.
Unlike a personal trainer, a physical therapist (PT) doesn’t focus solely on helping you lose weight and build muscle. Instead, physical therapists view exercise as therapy—a critical means to a pain-free, walk-up-the-stairs-without-getting-winded, full-range-of-motion end—not just a six-pack. A PT can safely treat your pain and impaired function by designing an exercise program specifically suited to your needs and goals.
A PT also can define realistic expectations for progress, help you monitor improvement on a weekly basis, teach you how to exercise properly, and provide continued feedback and guidance to promote healthy, long-term weight loss. To maximize the benefits of your exercise program, a physical therapist typically would recommend dietary changes—like eating brown rice, oatmeal, and lean proteins—in conjunction with behavior modification.
Keep in mind that if you’re considering bariatric surgery, physical therapy can help you prepare for the operation. Surgery is tough on your body—both during the procedure and afterwards—and it’s even tougher if you’re out of shape. Physical therapy can improve your fitness levels to increase your chances of experiencing a successful surgery and speedy recovery.
Physical therapy weight loss management plans allow you to you experience fun, pain-free movement so you can achieve and maintain your weight loss goals, relieve chronic pain, build muscle, increase flexibility and endurance, improve posture and functionality, and prevent injury or disability. If you’re ready to take the first steps toward a healthy, active lifestyle, find a PT in your area here.