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.
“Strength is the foundation for development of the rest of physical qualities.” Leonid Matveyev
Photo Credit: GiryaGirl
It was a passion for sports and exercise that led Campbell McCormack to physical therapy…and to kettlebells.
“I played baseball growing up and hung out with the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) at my high school when I could and thought I’d like to do sports medicine,” he said. But after looking at all of his options, he realized physical therapy was a way to use exercise to help people get better.
After finishing with a BS degree in Biology from Shippensburg University and then obtaining his MSPT from Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia, he worked at an outpatient clinic, treating a variety of orthopedic conditions before joining the Excel Physical Therapy team in Glen Mills in 2004.
His interests now lie in sports injuries, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement techniques. He’s worked closely with a number of athletes – analyzing swing mechanics for golfers and helping pitchers to improve mechanics and increase throwing speed. His newest passion, however, is kettle bells, and how they can be used for building strength and restoring function.
What are kettlebells?
Kettlebells (KB) are cast iron weights that look like cannon balls with handles. They were first used as early as the 1700s in Russian, where they evolved into becoming a tool in the Soviet military’s physical training regimen. Over the past few years, they have gained popularity, internationally and the United States as a tool used by professional, Olympic and novice athletes to build and maintain strength and agility.
“Kettlebell training started as a personal workout challenge for me,” Cam said. “I needed something different, challenging, and fun, and my course through KB instruction and training has been extremely fulfilling.”
Cam enjoyed kettlebell training so much that he went on to complete the kettlebell instructor certification course called the Russian Kettlebell Challenge in 2009.
“The group I started training with (RKC) offers the highest level of instruction and is taught in such a way as to develop strength as a skill. So learning HOW to train is more important than just banging out a bunch of mindless reps which unfortunately is how many people train – be it KB or otherwise. Since the RKC, the leaders of that organization left and formed a new one called StrongFirst, which I am currently involved with,” he said.
Physical Therapy and Fitness
Cam believes physical therapy and rehabilitation should blend seamlessly into fitness training.
“The kettlebell is my favorite tool for strength, conditioning, and movement awareness,” Cam said. “It teaches proper alignment, sequencing, and stabilization and can be scaled for rehab purposes or more advanced fitness routines.”
Cam is continuing to build his skill and expertise in kettlebell and Functional Movement Systems to help his patients. He completed the Certified Kettlebell-Functional Movement Specialist (CK – FMS) workshop in 2011, the Certified Indian Club Specialist (CICS) in 2012, and Titliest Performance Institute training (TPI level 1) in 2012. He will complete the final FMS mentorship this July in Durham, NC.
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.
Lauren with Duke and Blondie
Physical therapy begins with the word physical for good reason.
For a physical therapist, it’s long days on your feet, bringing virtually every muscle in your body to the task of helping your patients to become strong and flexible, to overcome painful injuries and to resume their daily lives.
Apex Physical Therapist, Lauren Kelly, at our Royersford clinic, knows that in addition to extensive training and education, her job requires diligence and stamina.
“My goal is to ultimately make my patients independent, so they can go on and be active without needing me or additional therapy,” Lauren said. Her focus is hands-on, using manual therapy techniques, like myofascial release, the Maitland approach and the Graston Technique®.
“It’s about quality of life,” she said. “Every person’s quality of life is so different. Each patient has individual needs and goals. For one person, it might be to be able to walk the dogs or do laundry or cook a meal. For someone else it might be to play football.”
The former Division I soccer player at Temple University knows the rewards and rigors of long days and hard physical work. But with her soccer career and its training regimen behind her, Lauren has a new strategy to stay in shape for the job.
Lauren has employed the help of two trainers, who live with her, get up with her in the morning, and wait by the front door for her every evening when she gets home. As a result, she never misses her daily work-out, because there is nothing that motivates her like the big, brown eyes of her furry best friends, Blondie and Duke, begging to play.
Lauren has always been an animal lover. Before finishing her graduate degree in physical therapy from Thomas Jefferson, she spent years volunteering and working at the Lehigh County Humane Society. When she got married, in lieu of party favors, she and her husband made a donation to support the organization’s work. And when the time was right, they chose to rescue Blondie and Duke.
Lauren says in addition to the joy and love that her “babies” bring to her life, they also keep her active. She and her husband love to hike and to camp so they take daily walks and runs with their dogs close to home, and they’re always looking for new, dog-friendly spots where they can enjoy the great outdoors.
Lauren said one of her favorite spots is Evansburg State Park, where she and her husband got engaged. “There’s a beautiful loop all around Skippack Creek,” she said “We love anything rocky and rugged…and along water.” Blondie and Duke love to swim, and when they happy, Lauren is happy.
“They are my babies,” she said.
Where to Romp with Rover
Here are a few of Lauren’s favorite picks for getting out and about with the pooches:
Evansburg State Park - This 3,349-acre in Skippack, PA, has six miles of trails, a few historic buildings and a variety of habitats including forests, meadows, old fields, and farmland.
French Creek State Park – In Elverson, PA, with 7,339 acres, 40 miles of trails, two large lakes for canine swimming, and dog-friendly campsites, this is a fun daytrip or weekend getaway.
Hopewell Furnace – Adjacent to French Creek, this historic site once manufactured coal and processed iron. Lauren said that beyond the historic attractions there are several good trails to explore and lots of nice spots for Blondie and Duke to take a dip.
And here are a few more dog-friendly places to explore around the Philadelphia region.
For more information on how physical therapy can help you maintain the quality of life you deserve, call us to speak with one of our dedicated professional physical therapists.
Most physical therapy patients have modest goals – to recover from an injury, to walk without a limp, to run without pain or just to get back to their normal routines.
Not so with Scott Heyd. Last year, he began treatment with Apex Physical Therapy’s Marsha Berger Grant with an eye toward overcoming challenges that were anything but typical.
On his to-do list:
• Sprinting through fields of dangling electrical wires,
• Trekking through fiery, smoldering landscapes,
• Scaling 9-foot walls and slippery mountains of mud,
• Plunging into ponds of frigid water,
• And lugging tree trunks and tires for miles over rough terrain.
In short, Scott planned on competing in the World’s Toughest Mudder.
For the uninitiated, a Tough Mudder is an intense endurance event involving miles of muddy, military-style obstacles. The World’s Toughest Mudder is a 24-hour, invitation-only, championship race that puts the world’s most hardcore Mudders through the ultimate test. And Scott wanted to be tested.
Why does Scott compete in grueling races like this? “I don’t have a lot of rest in me,” he said. “My body is only young and strong once. I love to test its limits. It sounds cliché, but the times I feel most alive are when I’m doing events like this that test my mental and physical limits.”
Before he could tackle the extreme obstacles on race day, however, another obstacle stood in his way. Scott was suffering from an injury that was impeding his training schedule, and he turned to Marsha for help.
Stretching, Strengthening and Stabilizing the Core
Scott has been a patient of Marsha’s since 2005 when she helped him recover from surgery to his peroneal tendons and problems with right and left posterior tibial tendons. At that time, Marsha helped get Scott get back on his feet to train for a marathon.
How did she do it? “The same way we do for everyone,” Marsha said. “We stretched whatever was tight, strengthened whatever was weak and stabilized his core, while working to get him back to his former level of function.”
“I’ve been seeing Marsha for a lot of years,” Scott said. He trusts her, and he counts on her professionalism and passion to help him reach his goals. He says she’s played an important role in his success.
“Scott is very kind to say that he got there (to the World’s Toughest Mudder) because of me,” Marsha said. “It was more like he was able to get back to exercising because of me and the work we did together in physical therapy. But he succeeded in the race because of how hard he worked at exercising and training for it.”
The training paid off. On Nov. 17 at Raceway Park in Englishtown , NJ, Scott ran 28.5 miles and conquered 90 grueling obstacles. He said the icy swimming obstacles were “certainly chilly” in the evening hours of a cold November day, but the toughest hurdles were dragging two large tires for about 200 meters and the Berlin Walls (9-foot high walls with only one small step for propulsion).
He raced for more than 11 hours, when his upper body would not permit him to make it over another obstacle. He finished ahead of about 50 percent of the other racers, and with this race behind him, he is already looking for new challenges.
Scott says he is grateful to have Marsha to help him overcome physical obstacles that stand in the way. And E & A Therapy is proud to have sponsored Scott in the race and to have helped him to meet his goals.
Stretch for a healthy back.
Our mission is your recovery, and we are committed to helping you to do all you want to do. In support of that goal, we are rolling out two new E&A Therapy features: Motion Monday and Meet the Therapist Thursdays.
On Motion Mondays, we’ll be using Facebook to highlight a variety of exercises and stretches, aimed at maximizing your mobility and reducing stiffness and pain so you can reach your personal fitness goals. Through both video demonstrations by our licensed PTs and step by step instructions, we’ll focus on ways to help you get more out of your workouts and to avoid injuries as you become more active. Whether you are a serious athlete, preparing for a milestone event, or a couch potato working to embrace a more active lifestyle, Motion Mondays can motivate you to start your week off the on the right foot. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to see how we can help you get moving.
“Meet the Therapists” Thursday
If you are struggling to keep moving because of inflexibility or pain, a licensed physical therapist can help, and Excel and Apex physical therapists have the qualifications and advanced skills necessary to provide you with the care you need to get moving again. Our therapists lead the industry for continuing their professional education and achieving advanced degrees and certifications, but in addition to that, they are truly exceptional people. Our PTs continually strive to do their best, and in doing so they accomplish amazing feats and contribute to their communities and to their patients in meaningful ways. That’s why every week, we’ll be highlighting a different Excel and Apex physical therapist as part of our new feature, “Meet the Therapists” Thursday. Excel and Apex Physical Therapists inspire us, and we know they will inspire you, too.