“Why reading this post is NOT good for you”

You’re probably reading this post inside, sitting on a chair, on a phone or computer screen. Yet spring in Australia is the time when the outdoors beckons. We go to the beach in droves, have picnics and barbecues, paddle and fish and swim. Some hike, others bike, and a few do both (although not at the same time!) But these good times in the outdoors are an exception to the rule, which is that most of us spend the vast majority of our time inside. According to one estimate, the average person spends 90% of his or her life indoors, and as we get older we become even more inclined not to venture out.

When we do, there’s a gantlet of precautions: slather on the sunscreen; take it easy if air pollution is bad; watch out for ticks, mosquitoes, and other creatures that might bite. It’s all very well-meaning but it also reinforces indoor ways. But despite these irritations, the study results are ticking up: spending time outdoors has discernible benefits for physical and mental health. Here are five potential benefits of spending more time outdoors:

  1. Your vitamin D levels will go up

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that eventually leads to the creation of the biologically active form of the vitamin. Over all, research is showing that many vitamins, while necessary, don’t have such great disease-fighting powers, but vitamin D may prove to be the exception. Epidemiologic studies (i.e. studies on large populations) suggest it may have protective effects against everything from osteoporosis to cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke. Even by conventional standards, many people don’t have enough vitamin D circulating in their bodies. The good news is that you’ll make all the vitamin D you need if you get outside a few times a week on a sunny day and expose your arms and legs for 10 to 15 minutes.

There are some snags. Vitamin D production is affected by age (people ages 65 and over generate about a fourth as much as people in their 20s) and skin colour. Another problem is that sunscreens are most effective at blocking the ultraviolet B (UVB) light, the part of the spectrum that causes sunburn, but UVB also happens to be the kind of light that kick-starts the generation of vitamin D in the skin.

The either-or of sunscreen and sunshine vitamin has stirred up a lot of controversy and debate between pro-sunscreen dermatologists and the vitamin D camp. But there is plenty of middle ground here: some limited sun exposure on short walks and the like, supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, and liberal use of sunscreen when you are out for extended periods, particularly during the middle of the day.

  1. You’ll get more exercise (especially if you’re a child)

You don’t need to be outside to be active: millions of people exercise indoors in gyms or at home on treadmills and elliptical trainers. Nor is being outside a guarantee of activity. At the beach on a summer day most people are in various angles of repose.

Still, there’s no question that indoor living is associated with being sedentary, particularly for children, while being outdoors is associated with activity. According to some surveys, children spend an average of 6 hours a day with electronic media (video games, television, and so on), time that is spent mainly indoors and sitting down. British researchers used Global Positioning System devices and accelerometers, which sense movement, to track the activity of 1,000 children. They found that the children were more than doubly active when they were outside.

Florence has many fun things to do for children of all ages!

Adults can go to the gym. Many prefer the controlled environment there. But if you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking, biking, gardening, cleaning up the yard, and doing other things that put the body in motion.

  1. You’ll be happier (especially if your exercise is ‘green’)

Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and unless you live in a glass house, there’s more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to relax and cheer people up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles and laughter.

Researchers at the University of Essex in England are advancing the notion that exercising in the presence of nature has added benefit, particularly for mental health. Their investigations into “green exercise,” as they are calling it, dovetails with research showing benefits from living in proximity to green, open spaces.

In 2010 the English scientists reported results from a meta-analysis of their own studies that showed just five minutes of green exercise resulted in improvements in self-esteem and mood. It’s hard to imagine how a stroll in a pretty park wouldn’t make us feel better than a walk in a drab setting.

  1. Your concentration will improve

Richard Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his 2008 book Last Child in the Woods. It’s a play on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Researchers have, in fact, reported that children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. A study published in 2008 found that children with ADHD scored higher on a test of concentration after a walk through a park than after a walk through a residential neighbourhood or downtown area. Other ADHD studies have also suggested that outdoor exercise could have positive effects on the condition. So if you have trouble concentrating — as many do — you might see if some outdoor activity, the greener the better, helps.

  1. You may heal faster

University of Pittsburgh researchers reported in 2005 that spinal surgery patients experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications during their recoveries if they were exposed to natural light. An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. a brick wall) had an effect on patient recovery. Of course, windows and views are different than actually being outside, but we’re betting that adding a little fresh air to the equation couldn’t hurt and might help.

So what are you waiting for? Leave your screen, and head outside. Your health, body, mood and mind will thank you for it.

***

Contact us for more information or to make an appointment.

For a complimentary copy of John Perrier’s book “Back pain: How to Get Rid of it Forever” please follow the links below.

In Australia – click here:  http://www.amazon.com.au/Back-Pain-How-Forever-Causes-ebook/dp/B00UV5450U/

Elsewhere – click here: http://www.amazon.com/Back-Pain-How-Forever-Causes-ebook/dp/B00UV5450U/

I acknowledge the work of the Harvard Health School for the sontent of this article. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/harvard_health_letter/2010/july

Advertisements

Knee pain in kids

Knee pain is common in childhood. From bumps and bruises to ‘growing pains’, many children develop symptoms as the years fly by. Let’s look at one particular condition, called Osgood‐Schlatter’s disease, to better understand how knee pain in kids should be treated.

Osgood‐Schlatter’s disease can cause knee pain in rapidly growing children. Typically, this problem involves a part of the knee called the tibial tuberosity, which is the bump of bone just below your knee cap. The muscle that attaches here, the quadriceps, actually starts to pull this protuberance off the main bone shaft.

Osgood schlatter's disease

Note how the quadriceps tendon is pulling the bone away from the tibia

Osgood‐Schlatter’s disease usually affects kids between 11 and 14 years old, as this is a time of rapid growth. As children go through these growth spurts, the muscles around the knee can become very tight, exacerbating the problem.

Other conditions that must be differentiated from Osgood‐Schlatter’s disease include patella problems, tendinitis and knee fractures.

Unfortunately, playing sport can add to the problem. Any activity can cause Osgood‐Schlatter’s, but it is more common in activities that involve a lot of jumping and quick changes in direction like basketball, volleyball, soccer and gymnastics.

The good news is that with the right know‐how it is easy to treat the pain. Physio can help to stretch tight muscles, strengthen the weak ones, and make sure that all of your biomechanics are correct.

step down exercise

The step-down exercise, which, when performed correctly, can help to cure Osgood-Schlatter’s disease

We can also check your walking pattern and knee‐cap angle/position, and advise on how to modify movements in activity that might be contributing to the problem. Thankfully, we have good success in treating Osgood‐Schlatter’s disease.

“How to avoid and treat running injuries”

Although one of the most popular and convenient ways to stay fit, running is also one of the easiest ways for you to develop an injury. The impact and stress of running can be hard on your muscles and joints, commonly resulting in injuries to your hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

How to Avoid Running Injuries?

There are several simple techniques to help you avoid running injuries.

  • Perform a Warm Up & Cool Down. You may have specific stretches that have been prescribed by your physio—your warm up/down is an ideal time to per-form them. However, general static stretching is not as effective as once thought. A better method of warming up is to start very gently—perhaps with a walk—and gradually increase your pace.
  • Wear appropriate footwear suitable to your foot structure. Recent research indicates that softer, pad-ded footwear may actually be worse for your joint than a harder sole. Keep this in mind when buying your next pair of shoes.
  • If your foot has biomechanical problems, you would probably benefit from orthotics, which can be fitted on-the-spot at either of our PhysioWorks clinics.
  • Avoid over training – ask us for advice. As a general rule, do not increase your training by more than 10% each week. Do not try to beat your previous times every day! Take it easy, enjoy yourself, and gradually get into the habit of running.
    running injuries
    Common running injuries

Early Warning Signs of Impending Injury

If an ache or pain develops, do not ignore the early warning signs. While some injuries can be immediately evident, others slowly and progressively get worse, making it even more important to act early before chronic problems develop. So what are the early warning signs you should look for?

  • Joint pain: Pain that lasts longer than 48 hours needs physiotherapy diagnosis.
  • Tenderness: If pressing your finger into a specific point causes pain, and the same pain is not produced on the opposite side of the body, please ask for advice.
  • Swelling: Usually obvious, swelling often co-exists with pain and heat. The area will feel “full”.
  • Reduced Range of Motion: Compare with opposite side of body.
  • Weakness: Perform tasks on both sides of body to identify weakness.

Other warning signs that you have overtrained include

  1. Pain that does not go away when you warm up
  2. Aching that persists for more than 30 minutes after you have cooled down, or
  3. Stiffness and pain the following morning.

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, please give us a call. We will save you months of pain and frustration. We’ll have you back jogging pain free again in no time!

For more information on running injuries, please see http://www.physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Activities/running-injuries or visit us directly at http://www.physioworks.com.au/Bulimba/bulimba.htm or http://www.physioworks.com.au/Mansfield/mansfield.htm

 

 

“An easy way to keep your aches and pains at bay”

Walking improves your health and fitness and is suitable for most people. Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, and can be done at any time of day, at your own pace.

Almost everyone can do it. Some of walking’s main benefits include:

  • Increased heart & lung fitness
  • Decreased blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Decreased joint and muscular pain
  • Stronger bones and improved balance.
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance.
  • Reduced body fat.

How long should I spend exercising?

Olympic athletes use a system of a ‘hard day’ of training followed by an ‘easy day’ that allows their body a partial recovery. You can use this system too! Refer to the table below. First, select your current fitness level from the green column. The blue column will tell you how long you should exercise on your hard and easy days. You can allow one day per week for a complete rest.

Time and pulse rate data

Time and pulse rate data

How hard should I exercise?

Taking your heart rate is an ideal way to gauge if you are exercising with the correct intensity. Locate your age category in the yellow columns on the chart. The numbers below indicate the pulse rate that you should aim for during exercise., depending upon your fitness level. For example, a sixty year old with intermediate fitness should walk for 20 minutes on an easy day, 30 minutes on a hard day, with a pulse rate of 112 beats per minute.

Others ways to encourage yourself to walk include walking with friends, family or pets. Most large shopping centres have walking groups, where you can walk in air-conditioned comfort with like-minded people. With so many beautiful walking tracks around the Brisbane area, you can be sure to always enjoy great scenery.

As your fitness improves, you’ll find yourself covering greater distances in shorter times and becoming less puffed when walking at speed or up hills. Don’t stop there! Keep setting yourself new goals and enjoy all that new found energy.

walking

Walking – a great way to get fit, spend time with family, and get those stiff joints moving. And it’s free!