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10 Goals to Help You Focus on Health & Wellness in 2019

10 Goals to Help You Focus on Health and Wellness in 2019

Do you remember the fitness goals you set in 2018? These resolutions probably went something like: “I am going to hit the gym 5 times per week;” “I will do hot yoga at 6 am before work;” I’m going to cut out all carbs.”

When reflecting on the past year, think about your progress. Did you achieve these goals as expected? If not, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Forbes, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolution,

When considering your resolutions for 2019, you can promote a healthier lifestyle without focusing solely on fitness or dieting. There are a lot of other wellness goals you can set that are achievable but make an impact on your overall health.

Below are some unique and manageable goals you can set for yourself in 2019 focused on wellness, not fitness.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Cutting out complete food groups can be a rather difficult feat. However, incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet is a simple yet effective way to promote disease prevention, longevity, and overall wellness. Try having at least one or two vegetables or fruits with every meal, perhaps even swapping out unhealthy choices to make room on your plate.

2. Drink enough water.

Drinking enough water helps to flush out toxins, increase your energy, boost your immunity, and improve your skin complexion. While the rule of thumb mandates 64 ounces of water per day, you may need more or less depending on your own personal situation, such as gender or if you are pregnant. Click here to discover how much water you should drink daily.

If you don’t like plain water, try infusing it with different fruit and herb combinations, such as lemon raspberry or mint lime. You can use a water bottle like this one from Amazon to make your infusion process simple.

Moreover, when you are considering your budget, going natural is best for you. It helps you save cost and at the same time promotes your overall wellbeing.

3. Find a workout buddy.

One of the reasons why people don’t stick to their fitness routine is because they do it alone. You can easily tire out and lose motivation when you go to the gym by yourself. This year, find a workout buddy to make your fitness routine fun and push yourself to achieve the fitness goals you set together. A workout buddy can also help you conquer the anxiety of going to the gym.

4. Practice meditation regularly.

Find a space in your home or office where you can meditate daily. Meditation doesn’t have to be you sitting cross-legged on the floor; instead, you can try journaling, praying, or studying. Meditation can help you recharge and stay motivated.

There are a variety of meditation resources, such as guided imagery, from iTunes. Headspace is one of the most popular guided meditation smartphone apps on the market.

5. Break down your goals into bite-sized pieces.

Be realistic and don’t try to do too much. Instead, break your goal down into sub-tasks and goals that are short-term and achievable. This will get you adapted and prevent the loss of motivation, while also ensuring you don’t hurt yourself.

6. Go natural for your bath and beauty products.

Some products that aren’t regulated can contain harmful chemicals. Consider swapping out your shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, and similar products with natural, organic versions.

7. Experiment with spices.

Some spices like turmeric, garlic, and cinnamon have a number of health benefits. For example, studies have shown that these spices contain antioxidants that help to lower inflammation. Experiment with different spices to create new flavors and promote a healthy lifestyle.

8. Eat more beans.

Beans provide protein and are high in fiber, which is good for your internal body processes and systems. Incorporate beans into your meals to enhance their health benefits. For example, add white beans to soups to make them creamier or add beans to your favorite pasta or “zoodles” dishes.

9. Keep healthy snacks close.

Sometimes you can get cravings for sweets or salty foods, especially is those items are typically in your diet. These cravings can tempt you to eat unhealthy foods, such as chips or candy. Keep healthy snacks close, like in your backpack, purse, and desk, to alleviate cravings with healthy ingredients.

10. Sip on hot water in the morning.

Start your morning with a cup of warm water, perhaps flavored with fresh lemon slices, to increase your energy level and rehydrate your body to promote proper functioning of your systems and organs.

This year, when setting your New Year’s Resolutions, don’t focus solely on fitness. Instead, consider overall wellness so that you can improve your overall health through manageable and achievable goals.

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How to Avoid Injury While Shoveling Snow This Winter

Shoveling snow during winter is unavoidable, especially in Upstate New York, and can sometimes be a risk factor leading to hospital visits. However, you can perform this chore without hurting yourself.


Tips to Prevent Shoveling-Related Injuries


▶ Warm up before you head outside.

In the winter, your muscles are forced to do more work because cold weather constricts veins and arteries that supply blood and oxygen, and there is an additional strain on your heart to pump more blood to meet the demand from your muscles. Do some quick warm-up exercises before heading out to shovel snow to get your circulatory system working faster and prepared for the winter chill.

▶ Don’t lift too much snow at one time.

A full load of snow on your shovel is heavy. If you continually pick up large amounts of snow, you’re likely to strain your muscles. Only lift small portions of snow, ensuring the weight is less than your carrying capacity, to avoid exhaustion or strain.

▶ Use your knees.

One common mistake people make is lifting snow without the support of their knees. Bend your knees while lifting snow to avoid putting too much pressure on your lower back and prevent injury. If possible, push the snow, rather than lift it, off your walkways with a shovel.

▶ Bundle up to prevent hypothermia.

Prevent your body temperature from falling dangerously low by wearing proper clothing, including insulated coats, waterproof gloves, and warm boots with a lot of traction. Take regular breaks to go inside, warm up, and complete a quick exercise to move your muscles.

▶ Invest in an ergonomic shovel.

Prevent back strain and other injuries by investing in your snow removing equipment. While snowblowers are ideal, they can be expensive. As a back-friendly alternative, invest in an ergonomic shovel, such as this one at Target.

Handling an Injury

Never ignore pains. If you notice anything abnormal while shoveling snow, stop immediately and get back indoors. If you experience ongoing to persistent pain, schedule an appointment with our ACPT staff so that we can evaluate your situation, increase the rate at which you heal, and provide additional tools to prevent injuries in the future.

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Strength Training Critical for Active, Independent Aging

To the 43 million Americans who have low bone density, putting them at high risk of osteoporosis, Albany physical therapist Joseph Trimarchi has an important message: exercise is good medicine. But not just any exercise – weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise.

“As people get older, bone density certainly becomes an issue for many people, which can lead to unexpected falls, broken bones and even the onset of osteoporosis,” said Trimarchi, physical therapist of Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy. “But studies have proven that doing regular, weight-bearing exercise like jogging, walking, aerobics, dancing and resistance training can actually strengthen your bones. It’s a true ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.”

And while this benefit of strength training for older adults is a powerful one, it’s simply just one in a list of proven reasons why seniors should make strength training a part of their lifestyles and fitness regimens.

While a reduction in strength is often considered an inevitable part of getting older, Trimarchi says that people of all ages should feel empowered to take charge of their overall health (including strength training) as they age. Along with diet and regular check-ups with both a physician and a physical therapist, an exercise regimen that includes elements of strength and resistance training can help slow some of the effects of aging – this, while also allowing one to maintain a high quality of life through activity and independence.

According to Trimarchi, the many proven benefits of weight-bearing and resistance exercise include:

Rebuilding Muscle: People do lose muscle mass as they age, but much of this can be slowed and even reversed through strength and resistance exercise. And of course, a stronger body has a direct impact on issues related to balance, fall prevention and independence.

Reducing Fat: We also tend to more easily put on weight as we get older. Studies show, however, that while older adults gain muscle mass through strength training, they also experience a reduction in body fat.

Reducing Blood Pressure: Studies have also shown that strength training is a great (and natural) way to reduce one’s blood pressure, even for those who “can’t tolerate or don’t respond well to standard medications.”

Improving Cholesterol Levels: Strength training can actual help improve the level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the body by up to 21 percent, while also helping to reduce to levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Strengthening Mental Health: This goes with all exercise, including strength training. Maintaining a high level of fitness can combat anxiety, depression, issues with stress, etc. Exercise is also great for memory!

“Whether walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, etc., we recommend 30 minutes of weight-bearing activity every day,” Trimarchi said. “It’s also necessary to set aside another two to three days of strength and resistance training each week, which can include free weights, weight machines, Pilates, yoga, and so on.”

Trimarchi adds that for the sake of both health and safety, a thorough strength, movement and balance assessment should precede any new exercise regimen, especially for older adults – assessments that physical therapists like those on the Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy team are uniquely qualified to perform.

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‘Why Movement Matters’ during National Physical Therapy Month

While the profession of physical therapy is often characterized under the generalized label “rehabilitation,” Albany physical therapist Joseph Trimarchi is eager to create a wider narrative – one that focuses on physical therapy’s overall ability to change lives by helping people move better.

“When it comes down to it, physical therapy is all about experiences. It’s about making it possible for people to live and experience life to the fullest,” said Trimarchi, physical therapist of Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy. “Movement – not just exercise, but the overall ability to work, play and live optimally – just so happens to be at the center of so many of our greatest life experiences.”

And with October being National Physical Therapy Month, Trimarchi and other physical therapists across the country are highlighting the many ways physical therapists are uniquely positioned to improve lives and experiences for people of all stages in life.

Physical therapists are highly educated medical professionals who are trained and licensed to help people both improve and maintain the ability to move optimally and with reduced pain. Often, physical therapists can help people do this without the need for surgery or prescription medication.

“This includes people who are hurt, injured or who have had surgery, of course,” Trimarchi said. “But, this also includes athletes looking to improve performance and avoid injury, older adults looking to remain active and independent, workers who want to improve production and comfort while on the job, women who are pregnant … all the way to people who simply just want to be healthier and less sedentary so they can better enjoy the things they love.”

And, while strength, cardio health, balance and flexibility are critical for maintaining functional abilities throughout life (i.e., walking, climbing stairs, lifting, reaching, getting out of bed), the ability to move optimally and be active, Trimarchi says, is something that can equally benefit the body, the mind and the soul.

The Body– It’s no secret that being active and exercising regularly can benefit the body in seemingly countless ways, from improving cardiovascular health to reducing the incidence of chronic disease. But beyond maintaining great health, exercise as prescribed by a physical therapist can benefit people in numerous ways, from helping reduce chronic pain to strengthening bones and joints in older adults.

The Mind – Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can sharpen and improve memory. But for those with mild cognitive impairments, exercise can also help slow the rate at which people with such impairments decline. Exercise has also been linked to greater focus, improved learning for children and adolescents, and a reduction in anxiety and stress.

The Soul – Research has also shown that those who exercise regularly tend to be happier and more social than those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. Not only that, but maintaining a stronger, healthier body with an eye toward optimal movement helps remove barriers that may stop someone from experiencing life to the fullest, whether that includes exploring new places or trying new things.

“The greatest joy I get from being a physical therapist is helping people get to a place in their lives that they thought was either in the past or was unattainable from the get-to,” Trimarchi said. “Whether it’s helping a person complete their first 5K or making sure someone’s able to still pick up and hug their grandkids, my job as a PT is to help people experience life and be the greatest possible versions of themselves – all through better, more optimal movement.”

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Pools offer both fitness, relief for older adults

While drinking plenty of water is critical to life, health and healing, simply submerging your body in water (i.e., a pool) opens up opportunities for relief and fitness for those who otherwise may have difficulty exercising.

This is especially important for aging adults and those with chronic conditions, said Albany physical therapist Joseph Trimarchi.

“When our bodies are submerged in water, such as in a pool, we become lighter,” said Trimarchi, physical therapist of Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy. “This, coupled with the natural resistance water places on movement, makes water exercise ideal for many people who deal with issues related to strength, flexibility, balance, sore joints, pain, and even chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.”

The buoyancy of waist-deep water, for example, can support around half our body weight, while neck-deep water can reduce body weight by up to 90 percent. Such reduction in weight and impact on the joints can help people who may experience difficulty standing, balancing and exercising on land to move more freely – and often with less pain.

In addition, water offers 12 times the resistance of the air around us. Because of this added resistance, movement and exercise while submerged in a pool can help build overall strength and stability in the body, Trimarchi said.

“This makes pool exercise, and even aquatic rehabilitation when needed, ideal for the aging adult whose goal is to simply maintain a strong, stable and healthy body, ensuring they’re able to keep up with their active lifestyles outside the pool,” Trimarchi said. “A warm pool can both soothe muscles and joints while simultaneously keeping you strong and in optimal health.”

One study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise back in 2007 showed that older women who regularly participated in a pool-based exercise program performed better in daily tasks than others who exercised similarly on land. The women in the study, for example, improved their walking speed by 16 percent, their agility by 20 percent, and their ability to walk stairs by 22 percent.

According to Trimarchi, even when people suffer from common chronic diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis, water exercise can help improve the use of affected joints while decreasing overall pain.

“This can also be applied to people who are recovering from injury or surgery,” Trimarchi said. “With the guidance of a physical therapist, the pool can be an effective rehabilitative tool for helping people recover while improving strength, confidence and function.”

Those who feel pool exercise or aquatic therapy may help them improve fitness levels or overall functional abilities should first contact their physical therapist for professional guidance. A physical therapist, like those on the Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy team, can help identify your greatest weaknesses and needs, then develop a pool fitness plan that specifically addresses these needs and your personal goals.

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Mind your Back(pack) during Back-to-School

From homework and tests to extra-curricular activities, students already shoulder plenty of weight during back-to-school time. Their backpacks should be the least of their worries, says Albany chiropractor Dr. John Traudt.

“Backpacks are so practical, but they’re also so easy to misuse,” said Traudt, of Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy in Albany. “If they’re too heavy or just worn incorrectly, backpacks can cause strained muscles, sore joints, back pain and even injury in kids.”

The American Occupational Therapy Association estimates that about 79 million students across the U.S. carry school backpacks. Among these, nearly 22,000 strains, sprains, dislocations and fractures – ailments caused by improper backpack use – were reported by medical providers in 2013, according to the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission.

“These injuries are preventable,” Traudt said. “Parents can play an active role in in preventing these injuries by first selecting the right packs for their kids, then ensuring these packs are worn correctly.”

In this spirit, Traudt offers the following tips for parents, guardians and teachers:

Select the Right Pack: Choose a pack that’s no larger than 75 percent of the length of your child’s back. Wide straps keep the pack from digging into the shoulders, and a padded back adds comfort and protection.

Lighten the Load: A loaded backpack should never be heavier than 10 percent of a child’s weight. Unfortunately, it’s been estimated that 60 percent of students between ages 12 and 17 are carrying this amount and more.

Distribute the Weight: Use multiple pockets and compartments to distribute the weight of the items inside the pack. Keep heavier items closer to your child’s back, while light and/or sharp items (pens, scissors, etc.) should be stored away from the back.

Lift with the Knees: Teaching your child about proper lifting will offer a lifetime of protection for his or her back. Children should always lift their backpacks using their knees, not their waists.

Adjust and Carry: Insist your child always carry his or her pack using both shoulder straps, with the sternum strap and hip belt (if part of the pack) tightly secured. Adjust the shoulder straps so the backpack rests snugly against the back, below the shoulders yet above the hips.

Watch for Warning Signs: Signs your child’s backpack is too heavy or not fitted properly include difficulty picking up and/or putting on the pack, pain when wearing, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs, strap marks left behind on the shoulders, or a change in posture while wearing the backpack.

Seek Advice from a Physical Therapist: Licensed physical therapists are specially trained to prevent injury, reduce pain and restore mobility. Seek the advice of a physical therapist, such as those on the Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy team, to learn more about properly selecting and wearing a backpack.

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Dog Owners More Likely to Meet Fitness Benchmarks

It turns out our furry friends have more to offer us than companionship and unconditional love. Multiple studies show that dog owners are generally healthier and more likely to meet national fitness benchmarks than non-owners. 

According to the American Heart Association, dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity each day. 

 

In general, pet ownership has proven to lead to a number of great health benefits associated with happiness, reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure but dogs are special. Because they need exercise and often demand it from us, they have a persistent way of urging us onto a path toward more exercise and better health.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health showed that dog owners take an average of 2,760 more steps per day compared with those who don’t have dogs. This amounts to 23 additional minutes of moderate exercise per day. Another more recent study published in 2017 by BMC Public Health backs these numbers. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (i.e., brisk walking) each week. And of course, achieving such benchmarks help individuals improve and maintain long-term health – both physical and mental wellness. 

Walking is one of the best physical activities nearly anyone can do. Taking a dog out for a walk often makes the activity more enjoyable and feel less like exercise – less like a chore.

 

Approximately 54.4 million U.S. households own at least one dog, based on stats from the Humane Society of the United States. 

Pets require lots of love, care, and responsibility, and simply having one isn’t going to immediately put you on a path toward a healthier life. There are too many other factors to consider. However, if you love animals and could use some added motivation to get outdoors, dogs have a way of coaxing people in that direction.

If you’re a dog owner who has pain or a physical limitation holding you back from walking or playing with your furry friend, you should consider visiting us at ACPT. One of our great physical therapists can provide a full pain and/or movement assessment with an eye toward getting pet owners (and would-be pet owners) back on track to more active, pain-free living. 

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Bad Posture Can ‘Sneak Up’ as Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain in older adults often appears suddenly, as if caused by a sudden trauma or injury. But for many, says ACPT physical therapist Joseph Trimarchi, shoulder injuries are often the result of musculoskeletal conditions directly associated with aging and, more specifically, weakening posture.

Some people may think ‘I slept on it wrong’ or ‘I pulled something in my shoulder, but the truth might point to something more long-term. The pain might be something that’s been developing over time, perhaps due to taking on a tighter, less upright posture as they age.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), anywhere from 44 to 65 percent of all complaints of shoulder pain can be attributed to a condition known as shoulder impingement syndrome – also known simply as “shoulder impingement.”

 

Shoulder impingement, says Trimarchi, is the result of chronic and repetitive compression of the rotator-cuff tendons in the shoulder, causing inflammation, pain, weakness, and a decreased range of motion in the joint. The condition can be caused by repetitive overhead movements such as those performed by golfers, swimmers, and racquet sports athletes.

However, Trimarchi points out that changes in posture related to aging – tightness in the back and neck coupled with an arching of the spine – can create conditions ideal for the development of shoulder impingement.

“Over time, impingement can cause the rotator cuff to start to fray and tear,” Trimarchi said. “This can lead to tendinitis and even tears in the rotator cuff.”

The key to preventing shoulder impingement as you age is regular mobility – moving and stretching your shoulders daily in order to stay loose and counteract the effects of declining posture. To do so, Trimarchi suggests adults include the following daily exercises as part of their regular regimen as they age:

>> Back Extension/Shoulder Flexing Stretch

Sitting in a chair, hands clasped together, reach your arms high above your head and slowly reach backward, extending your head and hands behind you. Hold for a few seconds, relax, and then repeat.

>> Backward Shoulder Extensions

Standing upright, your fingers interlaced behind your back, slowly lift your arms away from your buttocks and toward the ceiling. Lift as high as you can. Keep an upright stance, hold for a few seconds, release, then do it again.

>> Up-Back Shoulder Reaches

Reach one arm behind your back and, palm facing out, slowly reach up the small of your back toward the space between your shoulder blades. Hold for a few seconds, release, then do the same with your other arm. Repeat one time each.

>> Down-Back Reaches

Reach your hand behind your head and down your back. Hold for a few seconds, release, and then do the same with your other arm. Repeat one time each.

“Maintaining a healthy shoulder and preventing the onset of shoulder impingement translates into staying active, lifting the grandkids, comfortably reaching that top shelf in your cupboard, and even sleeping more comfortably,” Trimarchi said. “A physical therapist can help you get there – or stay there – by thoroughly evaluating your condition and setting you on a personalized path toward pain-free motion.”