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Enhancing Health Through Physical Activity: A Guide for Patients

If physical activity were a drug, it would be considered a miracle cure due to its ability to prevent and treat numerous illnesses. Lack of physical activity is a major health concern, ranking as the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Fortunately, it's one of the easiest risk factors to address. With around 31% of the global population not engaging in enough physical activity, the result is approximately 3.2 million preventable deaths annually and a significant impact on the occurrence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights that regular physical activity benefits the heart, body, and mind. They advise adults to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. It's important to distinguish between physical activity and sports, as the term “sports” can be daunting for some. The goal is to increase overall movement rather than participate in structured sports.

Physical activity is key to preventing and managing over 30 chronic medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, type 2 diabetes, mild to moderate depression, and cancer. The COVID-19 pandemic changed many people's lifestyles. While some increased their physical activity levels, many experienced a decrease due to isolation, shielding, and changes in work and social patterns and these changes have persisted.

Exercise and Pain Management

Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in managing and reducing pain, particularly chronic pain conditions.  Movement increases blood flow, which in turn improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues, reducing pain and promoting healing. Additionally, physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which can help alleviate pain and improve mood.

Physical Activity for Lower Back Pain and Injury Rehabilitation

For chiropractic patients, incorporating more movement into daily life can greatly improve outcomes as well as general health and well-being. Walking, for example, has been found to be an effective tool in managing lower back pain. Walking gently mobilises the lower back and pelvis, helping to relieve tightness and muscle imbalances caused by prolonged sitting. Strengthening exercises, such as core stabilisation exercises, can support the spine and reduce the risk of back pain. Here are some tips to help manage and prevent lower back pain through physical activity:

  • Gentle stretching: Incorporate gentle stretching to increase flexibility and reduce tension. (Joining a class or finding a program specific to your needs is key as stretching the wrong area's can be counter productive.)

  • Core strengthening: Engage in exercises to gently strengthen the core muscles that support the spine.

  • Low-impact activities: Swimming, walking, Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are excellent low impact exercises.

  • Posture improvement: Practise good posture during all activities, including sitting and standing, to reduce impact on your body and retrain healthy movement patterns.

For specific exercises to manage your condition ask your Chiropractor or Practitioner.

Alternatively, why not book a Physio-Led Reformer Pilates session for expert, one-2-one guided sessions with our expert Physiotherapist, Sara McGowan.

Pilates and Yoga

Pilates and yoga are excellent forms of exercise for chiropractic patients. Both practices focus on core strength, flexibility, and balance, which can help alleviate pain and improve posture. Pilates emphasises controlled movements and stabilisation, which can be particularly beneficial for those beginning their rehab journey. Yoga combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation, promoting overall physical and mental well-being. Both practices can be tailored to individual fitness levels and needs.  Finding the right class for your stage of recovery is important so be sure to communicate your injury history to the class leader before commencement of exercise. Speak to your practitioner or healthcare professional if you are unsure about starting any form of regular exercise.

At Guildford Chiropractic Centre we host a variety of Pilates, Yoga and Relaxation Classes. To explore what's on, check out our EVENTS PAGE.

Reducing Inflammation Through Exercise

Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce inflammation by lowering levels of inflammatory markers in the body. Exercise helps regulate the immune system and reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Incorporating regular movement into your daily routine can help manage inflammation and improve overall health.

Tips for Increasing Daily Activity

For chiropractic patients, integrating more movement into daily routines can have significant benefits.  Many of these may seem obvious, and we may have heard these suggestions before but consciously and consistently adding little bits of extra movement into each and every day goes a long way.

  • Lunchtime walks: Use your lunch break to walk and get some fresh air.

  • Walking meetings: Whenever possible, have meetings on the go.

  • Park farther away: Choose a parking spot that’s a bit further from your destination to get more steps in.

  • Take the stairs: Opt for stairs instead of lifts.

  • Stand while on calls: Stand up when talking on the phone to break up long periods of sitting.

  • Desk stretches: Incorporate stretching exercises at your desk.

  • Movement reminders: Set a timer to remind yourself to move for a few minutes every half hour.

  • Play with children: Engage in active play with your children or grandchildren.

  • Household chores: Consider household chores as healthy movement and standing up time.

Make Activity Fun with Challenges

Adding a fun element to physical activity can make it more enjoyable. For instance, set up a step challenge to track how many steps you and your family or friends take each day. Free apps are available for step challenges, allowing you to set personal goals or compete with others. You can create teams and view leaderboards to add a competitive edge.

Measurable success – Smart watches and pedometers give us an easy way to track our activity and provide motivation to do a little more each day.

Couch to 5k has been around for many years now but is still a great tool to start or re-start your relationship with physical activity.   There are apps now which have well known and entertaining narrators to guide you on your way.

By making small adjustments and increasing your daily movement, you can significantly enhance your health, reduce pain, manage lower back issues, and decrease inflammation. Remember, every step contributes to a healthier, pain-free you!


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