A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. For a journey of 10,000 steps, however, you might want to use a pedometer – or even better, an app.
Studies repeatedly show that our sedentary lifestyles – our long commutes and long hours in front of screens – are slowly killing us. On average, Americans spend 56 hours a week sitting, which is a proven link to obesity, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, cancer, and more.
The only way to combat the negative effects of our modern lifestyle is to make a conscious effort every day to move more – even it’s in short bursts of activity, and even if you never break a sweat.
10,000 steps – about 5 miles – is the daily amount of walking recommended to improve health and mitigate the detrimental effects of sitting. The idea started with the invention of a pedometer in Japan in 1965, and it stuck with many groups and fitness experts touting the benefits. Studies have found that just owning a pedometer can increase activity and fitness levels because the devices not only count steps, but also offer immediate positive feedback.
There’s an App for That
Pedometers can be purchased relatively inexpensively nowadays, but new free cell phone apps like Moves are tough to beat. The Moves app uses sensor and location information from your iPhone to track your movement, whether you are walking, running, biking or in transport by car, bus, etc.
Unlike many pedometers, your phone does not need to be kept out in the open on a belt to function properly. It can be kept in a purse, bag, armband or pocket as well. The Moves app runs in the background so nothing needs to be open for it to operate. The app does use up more battery power than average, but it is designed to enable most iPhones to stay charged for a full day. So as long as you charge your phone each night, you should have no problems.
One Step at a Time
Once you download the app, it’s time to get moving. The app records the number of steps as well as the amount of time that you walked. If you find you are initially falling short of your 10,000 step goal, don’t be discouraged. Remember, small changes made over time eventually become habits.
Here are some simple strategies that add activity to your daily routine and your daily steps without requiring a huge effort or a huge time commitment:
• Park at the far end of the parking lot at work or when shopping. You can easily add 400-500 steps this way.
• When watching TV, get up and take a walk during commercials. You can walk to the laundry room to do a load of wash, take out the trash before it overflows, run the vacuum or walk in place. You can add 200-500 steps during a single commercial break.
• Take a quick 20 minute walk in the morning before leaving for work. A one mile walk can yield 2,000-2500 steps.
• Take a quick walk around the block when you get home from work or an outing.
• Walk the dog.
• Walk when you talk on the phone.
• Go visit a colleague at work instead of emailing. Make it a habit to do this several times a day.
• Designate 10 minutes of your lunch break for a quick walk.
You’ll soon find that increasing activity is pretty painless, and watching those steps tally up is so rewarding and fun! It’s almost like playing a video game…only better for your health.
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination. – Tommy Lasorda
At work and in life, some days are more challenging and others more rewarding than others. For physical therapist and endurance athlete, Dan Allen, it’s the challenges and the rewards together that make it all worthwhile.
Dan completed his DPT from Arcadia University in 2005 and began work in at Apex Physical Therapy in Lionville in January 2012. When he isn’t working, he’s either spending time with his wife and young son, or training – HARD! ! He competes in triathlons, runs with the West Chester Running Club, and leads CrossFit training.
Determined to Excel
“My love of endurance sports came when I was in high school,” he said. “I found that I always had to push myself harder than others to achieve what they made look easy, and I became determined to excel at what they thought was hard.”
Before becoming a physical therapist, Dan spent 19 years in the fitness industry at the YMCA, working as a pool lifeguard in his teens and eventually as a fitness supervisor during college and graduate school. He has always pushed his own fitness boundaries, but through his work at the YMCA, Dan learned he has a great capacity to motivate others, as well.
“I know I am a motivator and teacher and want to instill confidence and independence in others,” he said.
Like the time this past fall, when he treated a young 10-year-old patient, who had bilateral surgeries to lengthen his Achilles tendons. He was casted and on a walker.
“He afraid he would fall when I met him,” Dan said. “He could not even walk from the front door into the PT gym without stopping to sit because he was so out of breath. My most rewarding on-the-job experience was when (after treatment), he was able to run into my clinic and jump on the low mat table for the first time. That last day of therapy was special, it made me cry.”
Dan originally considered becoming a physician, but he eventually realized that doctors don’t always have the time needed to get know their patients very well. They also don’t have the training in the treatments and methods that can make a person’s movements functional. Since becoming a PT, Dan hasn’t looked back.
Leading the Way
He takes joy in helping people meet their goals outside of work,, as well. At 5:15 every morning, he leads daily CrossFit-style training sessions with a West Chester group called the “Tough Dubbers.” The focus is on core strength, conditioning and camaraderie through activities like running, swimming, gymnastics and biking. “I want to help as many people as I can,” he said. “Tell them to come and visit me in Lionville!”
Photo credit: Beth Bischoff for Women’s Health
Are you considering starting a new fitness program, but don’t know “squat” about the best way to begin? A squat, done properly, uses lots of muscle groups from core to toe so an improper squat can be a sign that your body is compensating for tightness or weakness in several key areas. This article in Woman’s Health
explains how to do a preliminary assessment of your fitness level by taking a look at the way you perform squats.
Better yet, why not make an appointment with a fitness professional trained in the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)? FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. It was developed by a physical therapist, Gray Cook, and athletic trainer, Lee Burton to identify limitations and inefficient movement patterns.
The screen consists of seven movements which combine coordination, mobility and stability. As the client is put through these movement patterns, asymmetries and limitations are easily identified. Early identification of these issues can prevent future injuries and help you get a safe start to your new fitness program.
E & A Therapy has fifteen clinicians certified in providing Functional Movement Screens. Read more about FMS, or call the location closest to you if you are interested in making an appointment to work with one of our physical therapists.
The team at our Villanova did such a wonderful job helping a couple to get moving again that they inspired this love poem. That’s our E&A Team, downright inspiring!
“Excuses are tools for the cowardly, upon which monuments of nothingness are built.” Author Unknown
Photo Credit: Ildar Sagdejev
It takes a lot of perseverance and a lot of grit to work in construction or landscaping, day in and day out. And when on-the-job injuries occur, it can be difficult for laborers to find medical professionals who understand the effort it takes to get back to work.
Before obtaining Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT), Greg Jeblonski worked for about 7 years in landscaping, and he thinks his blue collar background goes a long way in enabling him to help patients with work-related injuries.
“They often feel no one understands them,” Jeblonski said, “because they feel doctors or other clinicians in the medical world haven’t experienced working ten-plus hours a day, five days a week, busting your hump from start to finish. My exposure to that kind of work setting helps give me ‘street-cred.’”
Education and Good Form
Greg works at Excel’s Walnut Street clinic, where he applies his background to real life situations that lots of his patients face. “I teach patients not to fear movement or the scenario where they were injured,” he said. “Further, I try to be up-to-date with research, and educate my patients.”
Misinformation about injuries and people’s perceptions of pain is everywhere, he said. For example, common knowledge promotes “lifting with the legs,” but research shows that we are safe to lift with what was previously thought of as ‘bad form,’ Greg says. For people who work arduous jobs, this kind of information can prevent recurring injuries and keep them working.
Strengthening exercises can make a big difference, too. “We want to strengthen people’s bodies for all situations,” Greg said, because on-the-job conditions are not always ideal for allowing “best form.”
A Physical Therapist Role
Greg says he enjoys many aspects of being a PT, but trying to help others recover from injuries and achieve their full potential is the best part of the job. “I like being the impetus, the drive, for helping people overcome their obstacles,” he said. “As PTs, we are perfectly positioned to do these things, whereas doctors, psychologists, and life coaches do not seem to have the same intimate relationship with their clients. That’s why I chose PT over something else.”
Greg grew up right here in Philadelphia, but after graduating, he and his wife moved to Boston for a couple years and then quit their jobs and backpacked across Europe for three months. Upon their return to the states, they worked as traveling PTs in Seattle for four months.
“Traveling definitely has been a positive influence on my life,” he said. “Choose your cliché: it broadens your horizons, makes you appreciate home, etc. But it really helps one become a more rounded individual, having experienced other cultures,” he said. “As you can imagine, that translates into being able to relate to patients of various backgrounds, as well.”
Greg, who has always been an avid athlete, now stays active in recreational soccer leagues, rock climbing, and general fitness activities at the gym. Plus, he and his wife, who is a PT, as well, have two daughters under age 3. It’s not quite as rigorous as landscaping, but “they always keep us busy and moving!” he said.
Read more about Greg and his experiences with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in Iraq in this article from ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine®.
This letter from a grateful patient demonstrates how E&A Therapy’s values of passion, integrity, excellence and accountability make a difference in people’s lives every day. Kudos to Jenkintown Clinic Director Frank Rabadam, Physical Therapist, Meredith Mayes, Patient Service Representative, Jean Wombough and Donna Tonkin and E&A Therapy’s entire Billing and Collections team.