One of the Best Cardio Workouts is Walking and Here’s Why

Article featured on Healthline

If your idea of an effective cardio workout involves long-distance running, high-intensity cycling, or a vigorous aerobics class, you’d be right, but you’d be leaving out a simple, but effective activity.

Brisk walking is a great cardio workout that can be done indoors or outdoors, at any time of day or night, and without the need for a gym membership or a lot of special gear.

All you need for a walking workout is a comfortable, sturdy pair of shoes and the motivation to lace them up and get on your feet.

This article will take a closer look at the benefits of walking as cardio exercise, and how you can boost your fitness and health by putting some pep in your step.

Is walking a good type of cardio exercise?

Cardio is short for “cardiovascular,” which means it involves the heart (cardio) and blood vessels (vascular). Cardio is also used interchangeably with aerobic, which means “with air.”

A good cardio workout gets your heart pumping stronger and faster, moving oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to all the muscles, organs and tissue throughout your body.

You may associate all that blood-pumping action with running and wonder, “Is walking cardio?” The truth is that any activity that gets your heart and lungs, as well as your large muscle groups, working harder can be considered aerobic or cardio exercise. A brisk walk does all those things.

Summary

Walking is an excellent type of cardio activity. But in order to challenge your cardiovascular system, you need to walk at a pace and intensity that increases the demands on your heart, lungs, and muscles.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

7 Tips to Become Active and Manage Chronic Pain

Article featured on CORA Physical Therapy

Chronic pain leads many people to avoid physical activity. Pain medication is often relied on or prescribed to help manage pain. This can lead to other significant problems such as dependence. An alternative and effective pain management strategy is regular exercise. Starting an exercise program, however, can be a whole other kind of pain.

If you believe the long-term health impact of exercise is the best option for you, here are tips for becoming more active.

Tips for becoming more active

Engaging in regular activity—especially when supervised by a physical therapist—can help you overcome the daily experience of pain and discomfort.

An exercise routine and staying motivated can help you feel better. Movement, in any manner, is a type of exercise. Being mindful of the muscle groups you use during daily activities can help you understand areas of your body that can benefit from improvements. For example, climbing stairs is akin to an aerobic exercise that requires lower body strength. Lifting a laundry detergent bottle is akin to a strengthening exercise that requires upper body strength. Awareness of pain levels, and other things like shortness of breath or the inability to perform an activity can give focus to your program design.

The key is to find ways to integrate activity into your life in a way that is natural. Strength training, increasing flexibility, and improving aerobic fitness are all great goals. Physical Therapy and personal training can help you achieve your health and fitness goals effectively and efficiently. Below are tips for getting active, today.

Get active with these 7 tips

1.Try the stairs.

The elevator is convenient, but stairs are a great form of exercise.

Pro tip: Use the railing to help with balance and while you develop the strength needed to perform this one your own. Push through your heel and try to activate your butt muscles.

2. Walk as much as you can.

Whether around your house or around the store, test your capacity and add on incrementally.

Pro tip: Get the right footwear at your local specialty running shop. Keep a journal and monitor improvement. Avoid going further than 50% of weekly volume in a single walk. (I.e., total weekly walking distance is 3 miles, a single walk should not be longer than 1.5 miles OR if total weekly walking minutes is 1 hour, a single walk should not be longer than 30 minutes)

3. Exercise in front of the TV.

When engaging in any sedentary activity like watching TV, try to get more active. Try working out while watching your favorite show. No equipment required.

Pro tip: Any movement is better than no movement. Explore the directions your arms and legs can go in. One day you can do circles with your arms while the next day your reach up and down. Visit each joint and test its potential (within a pain-free pattern).

4. Walk while on the phone.

Get up and pace back and forth to get steps in as you get the job done. Location doesn’t  matter. Whether at work, home, or on vacation, walking and talking is easy fitness.

Pro tip: Talking on the phone can distract from your awareness of the area around you. Knowing where you are and where you are going can help reduce your risk of falls or getting lost if you do become distracted.

5. Schedule in time for short workouts.

Research has shown that you can get exercise benefits from multiple, shorter sessions in a day vs 1 long session. Try 10 minutes of stretching in the morning followed by a few cardio moves. Repeat that process again on your lunch break. Before bed relax with light stretching. By the end of the day, you would have fit in 30 minutes of dedicated exercise time.

Pro tip: Develop daily routines. Loosen stiff muscles in the morning through movement patterns and stretches you are familiar with. Combat your chronic back pain with core and hip strengthening. Improve your posture with repetitions of pulling your shoulder blades together. The best part? No equipment needed!

5. Exercise with your family!

Trade in an evening together on the couch for a walk, bike ride, or throwing the ball around. This is a fantastic way to increase activity while encouraging healthier habits across your household. Taking a short walk after a meal is also linked to improved digestion and reduced instances of reflux.

Pro tip: Friendly competition may help motivate the youngsters. Rewards can incentivize participation. Pick days of the week that works for everyone and make a pact to be active together.

6. Get those chores done.

Walking the dog, cleaning the house, and mowing the lawn are all physical activities. Prep for your activities with a warmup. Treat them like sport, they are challenging.

Pro tip: Be aware of your posture, alignment of joints, breathing, and balance. Also, take note of sore muscles in the day after. This will help you to be conscious of the muscles you use during these activities, and prepare to use them next time.

Don’t let pain stop you from being active

When pain hits, we may feel the desire to rest more and move less. However, in the case of chronic pain, bed rest or prolonged rest, is not the best way to approach a flare up.

Chronic pain will not go away with a bit of rest. Rather than spending more time off your feet, getting a bit more active could be what you need to help finally experience relief from your discomfort.

Of course, this does not mean that you should disregard the pain and start pushing through it on your own with intense activity.

Working with a physical therapist can help you to reduce the experience of pain and discomfort by educating you on activities that are safe, so it will not leave you feeling worse after you are done.

In fact, as stated by Physiopedia, “The nature of a physiotherapist’s (PT’s) work makes us particularly well placed to initiate a discussion about the level of Physical Activity (PA) with each of our patients.”

When pain hits, we may feel the desire to rest more and move less. However, in the case of chronic pain, bed rest or prolonged rest, is not the best way to approach a flare up.

Chronic pain will not go away with a bit of rest. Rather than spending more time off your feet, getting a bit more active could be what you need to help finally experience relief from your discomfort.

Of course, this does not mean that you should disregard the pain and start pushing through it on your own with intense activity.

Working with a physical therapist can help you to reduce the experience of pain and discomfort by educating you on activities that are safe, so it will not leave you feeling worse after you are done.

In fact, as stated by Physiopedia, “The nature of a physiotherapist’s (PT’s) work makes us particularly well placed to initiate a discussion about the level of Physical Activity (PA) with each of our patients.”

Exercise can help with chronic pain by:

  • Supporting healthy muscle development
  • Increasing range of motion
  • Supporting weight loss
  • Improving heart health

Ready to get moving?

If you have not been physically active in a while, starting small is the best place to start. Even 5 minutes can be a great starting point.

If you still are not sure where to start or if you have a nagging pain that is stopping you from starting, you can reach out to to speak with a clinician.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Keep Moving: 10,000 Steps a Day May Halve Dementia Risk

As the global population ages, cases of dementia are also on the rise worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that some 55 million people currently have dementia, and the number is set to rise to 139 million by 2050.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that Alzheimer’s disease, the commonest form of dementia, affects around 5.8 million people in the United States alone.

The greatest risk factors for dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, are aging and genetics. Dementia is most common in those aged over 75, and having a close relative with dementia may increase a person’s risk of developing the disorder.

Other risk factors that we cannot control include sex — females are more at risk than males — and ethnicity. However, lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical exercise, controlling blood pressure, and keeping the brain stimulated, can decrease a person’s risk of dementia, even for those who have one or more risk factors.

And physical exercise need not mean sweating it out at the gym or taking up a new sport.

According to a study recently published in JAMA Neurology, simply increasing the number of steps a person takes each day can decrease their dementia risk by as much as 50%.

How did the study proceed?

The study used data from the UK Biobank. The 78,430 participants, of whom 44.7% were male and 55.3% female, had a mean age of 61.1 years. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease and dementia when they enrolled in the study. Researchers followed up with participants after a median of 6.9 years (6.4–7.5 years).

For the study, participants had to wear an accelerometer on their dominant wrist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to measure physical activity. The researchers then used an algorithm to work out the step count from the data collected by the accelerometer.

The researchers controlled for variables such as age, sex, race, socioeconomic status, smoking, overall health, and diet when analyzing the data.

At follow-up, 866 participants, or 1.1%, had developed dementia.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is conducting a clinical trial combining exercise with other lifestyle factors, like diet and social/ cognitive engagement, to determine if these factors in combination reduce risk of cognitive decline,” she added.

Dr. Porsteinsson agreed: “There are definite limitations to observational cohort studies but advantages as well. They are hypothesis-generating, that is they point us toward what we may want to study further in a controlled, randomized study. The good news here is that there is a bulk of evidence that suggests that exercise is beneficial in staving off dementia.”

What the study found

“This is an important study that may help inform public health guidelines around the amount of physical activity necessary to reap health benefits,” said Dr. Sexton.

“These results are not surprising given the robust data we have linking physical activity and better cognition. A strength of this paper is it used an objective, widely-understood measure of step count rather than self-reported data,” she noted.

The researchers found that both the number of steps and stepping intensity were associated with reduced dementia risk. For the greatest benefit — a 50% reduction in dementia risk — participants had to walk around 9,800 steps per day. Above this number, no further benefit was seen.

However, the good news for those who cannot achieve this many steps was that just 3,826 steps a day reduced dementia risk by 25%.

Dr. Porsteinsson agreed that any exercise will help reduce risk. “[It’s] never too late to get started and even a relatively small effort is beneficial and can then be added to as endurance improves,” he told us.

Purposeful steps, defined as more than 40 steps per minute, such as when going for a walk, increased the association with reduced dementia risk.

Stay active for mental and physical health

This study adds to building evidence that staying active as you age can maintain physical and mental health and improve longevity.

Another large-scale study of almost 650,000 military veterans found that being physically fit reduced dementia risk by up to 33%. In this study, even a small amount of exercise was found to help reduce dementia risk.

An analysis from the Alzheimer’s Society of 11 studies found that, out of taking regular exercise, not smoking, moderating alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy body weight, and eating a healthy diet, it was regular exercise that had the greatest impact on dementia risk.

For Alzheimer’s disease, regular exercise reduced risk by up to 45%.

How Often to Work Out for Health, Strength, and Weight Loss

Article featured on MedicalNewsToday

How often a person needs to work out to see results will depend on their fitness goals. Losing weight, building muscle, and increasing endurance and stamina each require a different approach to training.

Exercise has a range of important benefits. It enhances overall health, helps a person maintain moderate weight, relieves stress, and can promote restful sleep.

Due to this, what people wish to achieve through exercise differs among individuals. Some people may use exercise as a weight loss technique, whereas others may want to build their strength.

This article addresses how often a person should work out based on their particular goals.

It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting any workout or strength training program, as they can offer advice on how to work out safely and minimize the risk of injury.

How often to work out for weight loss

At its most basic level, weight loss is about solving a math problem.

A person must burn off more calories than they take in on a daily basis. Some of the ways a person can accomplish this include:

  • eating fewer calories each day than they burn off
  • increasing their physical activity to burn off more calories
  • increasing their muscle mass so that they burn more calories at rest

There is controversy surrounding whether exercise alone is enough to achieve weight loss.

For example, some research suggests that exercise can cause the body to start to compensate by adjusting metabolism as a means to hold on to body fat.

Exercise still has a role to play in weight loss, but for maximum benefits, a person should combine it with a healthful calorie-controlled diet that reduces their calorie intake.

Researchers also note that continuing to exercise after weight loss can help stop people from regaining the weight.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend a combination of cardiovascular training and strength training to boost health and burn calories.

Cardiovascular training

The AHA recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week.

A person can also engage in a mix of moderate intensity and vigorous activities should they prefer.

Example of moderate intensity activities include:

  • brisk walking at a speed of at least 2.5 miles per hour (mph)
  • dancing
  • gardening
  • riding a bicycle slower than 10 mph
  • tennis
  • water aerobics

Examples of vigorous activities include:

  • hiking, particularly uphill or while wearing a heavy pack
  • jumping rope
  • running
  • swimming
  • taking an aerobics class
  • vigorous yard work, such as digging

Ultimately, a person can gain the greatest health benefits by engaging in at least 5 hours of physical activity a week.

Strength training

Strength training involves using resistance to build muscle.

Muscle can help make the body more metabolically active, increasing the rate at which it burns calories.

The AHA recommend engaging in moderate-to-high intensity resistance training on at least 2 days of the week. Examples of approaches to resistance training include:

  • Lifting weights: This could involve using weight machines or free weights to perform exercises such as biceps curls, bench presses, and leg presses.
  • Using body weight for resistance: Exercise examples include lunges, squats, and tricep dips. A person does not require any equipment to do these.
  • Using resistance bands: Resistance bands are stretchy elastic bands that help increase the amount that a person’s muscles must work. Resistance bands vary in tightness, with tighter ones increasing the exercise intensity. A person can perform exercises such as squats, lunges, biceps curls, and triceps extensions using resistance bands.

Anyone who is new to exercise and unsure where to begin may wish to consult a certified personal trainer. A trainer can advise the individual on what exercises are suitable for their level of health and fitness, as well as how to perform them correctly and safely.

Summary

Exercise programs for enhancing aerobic capacity and building muscle strength can vary.

Often, the “best” exercise program is the one that a person is willing and able to perform on a routine basis.

With regular efforts and increasing intensity, a person should see their desired results over time.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Best Exercises for Flare-Ups of Lower Back Pain

Article featured on ProTailored

Why Do I Have Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is pain that occurs below the ribs, in the lumbar region of the spine. There are many causes of low back pain. Muscle tightness, injury to the ligaments or discs in the back, or problems with the bones and joints may lead to low back pain. Common causes include improper lifting, poor posture, lack of regular exercise, fracture, ruptured disk, or arthritis. Almost everyone will experience some level of low back pain at some point. Most of the time, your back will start to feel better on its own. However, sometimes the pain will not go away on its own and will require some form of intervention. Physical therapy is a great option to help with low back pain. Our physical therapists can do a full evaluation to determine what may be causing the irritation/inflammation/pain. The treatments will be focused on addressing the cause of the inflammation and helping to decrease pain levels.

Risk Factors for Low Back Pain

Some risk factors of developing low back pain include repetitive movements such as lifting, pulling, or anything that twists the spine. However, sitting at a desk all day can also be hard on your back, especially if your low back is not well supported, or you sit with poor posture.

Prevention of Low Back Pain

Prevention of the low back includes maintaining proper posture while sitting, but also while lifting or pulling. You want to make sure that you bend at the knees and lift with the legs rather than with your back. Exercise and having strong abdominal and back muscles can also help in the prevention of low back pain. If you are prone to low back pain, you may also want to try sleeping on a firm surface, sitting in supportive chairs (that are the correct height), and avoiding high-heeled shoes.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Our physical therapists will do a thorough examination to help determine the source of your pain. They will then work towards decreasing the source of the irritation with the use of manual techniques, cupping, scraping, dry needling, and therapeutic exercises. They will also help you determine things to do at home to help you manage and decrease your pain, and work towards preventing future pain.

What Should I Do During Flare-Ups or When I Have a Lot of Pain in the Low Back?

One of the best things that you can do when you have a flare-up or high levels of pain in the low back is to keep the back moving. Your pain levels may be so high that all you want to do is find a comfortable position and not move for a while. However, motion is key in helping alleviate low back pain. But there is a balance here, as you do not want to overdo it and create more pain. Therefore, the best thing to do is work in PAIN-FREE RANGES OF MOTION. That means movements that you can tolerate and that do not increase your pain.

Best Exercises for Flare-Ups of Low Back Pain

Lower Trunk Rotations

  • Start by lying on your back with both knees bent
  • Slowly rock your knees together to one side; hold for a second or two and then rock to the other side
  • If you have sharp pain with this motion, do not go as far!
  • This should feel like a stretch and should not be a sharp pain!
  • Complete slow rotations back and forth 20x

Single Knee to Chest

  • Start by lying on your back with both knees bent
  • Bring one knee up to your chest and hold for 5-10 seconds
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Do this exercise 10x on each side
  • If you have sharp pain with this motion, do not go as far!
  • This should feel like a stretch and should not be a sharp pain!

Pelvic Tilts

  • Start by lying on your back with both knees bent
  • Slowly flatten your back into the table
  • Then slowly rock your pelvis forward so that only your low back lifts off the table
  • Do this exercise back and forth slowly 20x
  • If you have sharp pain with this motion, do not go as far!
  • This should feel like a stretch and should not be a sharp pain!

Piriformis stretch

  • Start by lying on your back with both knees bent
  • Bring one leg up and place your ankle on your opposite knee
  • Use your hand to put pressure on your knee until you feel a stretch
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3x on each side
  • If you have sharp pain with this motion, do not go as far!
  • This should feel like a stretch and should not be a sharp pain!

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink, and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Walking Towards Healthier Knees

Article featured on ScienceDaily

A new study published today in Arthritis & Rheumatology led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine reveals that walking for exercise can reduce new frequent knee pain among people age 50 and older diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Additionally, findings from the study indicate that walking for exercise may be an effective treatment to slow the damage that occurs within the joint.

“Until this finding, there has been a lack of credible treatments that provide benefit for both limiting damage and pain in osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, assistant professor of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Baylor, chief of rheumatology at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and first author of the paper.

The researchers examined the results of the Osteoarthritis Initiative, a multiyear observational study where participants self-reported the amount of time and frequency they walked for exercise. Participants who reported 10 or more instances of exercise from the age of 50 years or later were classified as “walkers” and those who reported less were classified as “non-walkers.”

Those who reported walking for exercise had 40% decreased odds of new frequent knee pain compared to non-walkers.

“These findings are particularly useful for people who have radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis but don’t have pain every day in their knees,” said Lo, who also is an investigator at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at Baylor and the VA. “This study supports the possibility that walking for exercise can help to prevent the onset of daily knee pain. It might also slow down the worsening of damage inside the joint from osteoarthritis.”

Lo said that walking for exercise has added health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and decreased risk of obesity, diabetes and some cancers, the driving reasons for the Center for Disease Control recommendations on physical activity, first published in 2008 and updated in 2018. Walking for exercise is a free activity with minimal side effects, unlike medications, which often come with a substantial price tag and possibility of side effects.

“People diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis should walk for exercise, particularly if they do not have daily knee pain,” advises Lo. “If you already have daily knee pain, there still might be a benefit, especially if you have the kind of arthritis where your knees are bow-legged.”


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink, and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

2 Simple Exercises to Keep Your Feet Healthy

Article featured on Cone Health

According to Marcus Duda, MD, a Greensboro orthopedist and member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff, proper foot care is important to your health.

“During the pandemic, people became less active as gyms closed and activities stopped,” says Dr. Duda, a foot and ankle surgeon who has patented a graduated compression sock. “I started seeing a lot more foot and ankle issues.”

Many patients complained of a stone bruise or burning pain on the bottom of the foot and ankle stiffness. Achilles contracture or tendon stiffness was the culprit.

“After prolonged sitting, the Achilles tendon tightens and puts more pressure on the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot,” shares Dr. Duda. “Stretching out this tendon takes pressure off and relieves the pain.”

Dr. Duda suggests simple exercises. While leaning against the kitchen counter with your hands, place one foot back with the heel flat on the floor and lean forward with knees straight. As you stretch the back of your calf, you should feel the stretch from your heel up through the back of the knee. Stretch for 60 seconds five times a day.

“As you age, connective tissue called fascia weakens,” he adds. “This can lead to pain and weakness in your joints and muscles along with balance problems.”

To build fascial strength, Dr. Duda recommends doing short 30-second exercises several times a day. Hold onto the counter, and face forward. With bare feet, raise up on your toes like you are trying to grab a marble while lifting your heels. Once you have enough strength, try hopping on the ball of your foot.

If your foot or ankle pain is severe or does not go away, consult with your doctor or orthopedist.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

The Top 9 Benefits of Regular Exercise

Article featured on Healthline

Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories.

There are many types of physical activity, including swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing, to name a few.

Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It may even help you live longer.

Here are the top 9 ways regular exercise benefits your body and brain.

1. Exercise can make you feel happier

Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.

Additionally, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.

Interestingly, it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is. It seems that exercise can benefit your mood no matter the intensity of the physical activity.

In fact, in a study in 24 women diagnosed with depression, exercise of any intensity significantly decreased feelings of depression.

The effects of exercise on mood are so powerful that choosing to exercise (or not) even makes a difference over short periods of time.

One review of 19 studies found that active people who stopped exercising regularly experienced significant increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety, even after only a few weeks.

SUMMARY

Exercising regularly can improve your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

2. Exercise can help with weight loss

Some studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity.

To understand the effect of exercise on weight reduction, it is important to understand the relationship between exercise and energy expenditure (spending).

Your body spends energy in three ways:

  1. digesting food
  2. exercising
  3. maintaining body functions, like your heartbeat and breathing

While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which can temporarily delay weight loss. On the contrary, regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which can burn more calories to help you lose weight.

Additionally, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off and maintaining lean muscle mass.

SUMMARY

Exercise is crucial to supporting a healthy metabolism and burning more calories per day. It also helps you maintain your muscle mass and weight loss.

3. Exercise is good for your muscles and bones

Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.

Activities like weightlifting can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake.

This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote your muscles’ ability to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown.

As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to an increased risk of injury. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age.

Exercise also helps build bone density when you’re younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Some research suggests that high impact exercise (such as gymnastics or running) or odd impact sports (such as soccer and basketball) may help promote a higher bone density than no impact sports like swimming and cycling.

SUMMARY

Physical activity helps you build muscles and strong bones. It may also help prevent osteoporosis.

4. Exercise can increase your energy levels

Exercise can be a real energy booster for many people, including those with various medical conditions.

One older study found that 6 weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 people who had reported persistent fatigue.

Exercise can also significantly increase energy levels for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other health conditions. In fact, exercise seems to be more effective at combating CFS than other treatments, including passive therapies like relaxation and stretching or no treatment at all.

And let’s not forget the fantastic heart and lung health benefits of exercise. Aerobic exercise boosts the cardiovascular system and improves lung health, which can significantly help with energy levels.

As you move more, your heart pumps more blood, delivering more oxygen to your working muscles. With regular exercise, your heart becomes more efficient and adept at moving oxygen into your blood, making your muscles more efficient.

Over time, this aerobic training results in less demand on your lungs, and it requires less energy to perform the same activities — one of the reasons you’re less likely to get short of breath during vigorous activity.

Additionally, exercise has been shown to increase energy levels in people with other conditions, such as cancer.

SUMMARY

Engaging in regular physical activity can increase your energy levels. This is true even in people with persistent fatigue and those with serious health conditions.

5. Exercise can reduce your risk of chronic disease

Lack of regular physical activity is a primary cause of chronic disease.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, heart health, and body composition. It can also decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

More specifically, exercise can help reduce or prevent the following chronic health conditions.

  • Type 2 diabetes. Regular aerobic exercise may delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. It also has considerable health benefits for people with type 1 diabetes. Resistance training for type 2 diabetes includes improvements in fat mass, blood pressure, lean body mass, insulin resistance, and glycemic control.
  • Heart disease. Exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors and is also a therapeutic treatment for people with cardiovascular disease.
  • Many types of cancer. Exercise can help reduce the risk of several cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, lung, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, thyroid, gastric, and esophageal cancer.
  • High cholesterol. Regular moderate intensity physical activity can increase HDL (good) cholesterol while maintaining or offsetting increases in LDL (bad) cholesterol. Research supports the theory that high intensity aerobic activity is needed to lower LDL levels.
  • Hypertension: Participating in regular aerobic exercise can lower resting systolic BP 5–7 mmHG among people with hypertension.

In contrast, a lack of regular exercise — even in the short term — can lead to significant increases in belly fat, which may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

That’s why regular physical activity is recommended to reduce belly fat and decrease the risk of developing these conditions (34Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Daily physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

6. Exercise can help skin health

Your skin can be affected by the amount of oxidative stress in your body.

Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s antioxidant defenses cannot completely repair the cell damage caused by compounds known as free radicals. This can damage the structure of the cells and negatively impact your skin.

Even though intense and exhaustive physical activity can contribute to oxidative damage, regular moderate exercise can actually increase your body’s production of natural antioxidants, which help protect cells (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).

In the same way, exercise can stimulate blood flow and induce skin cell adaptations that can help delay the appearance of skin aging (37Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Moderate exercise can provide antioxidant protection and promote blood flow, which can protect your skin and delay signs of aging.

7. Exercise can help your brain health and memory

Exercise can improve brain function and protect memory and thinking skills.

To begin with, it increases your heart rate, which promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. It can also stimulate the production of hormones that enhance the growth of brain cells.

Plus, the ability of exercise to prevent chronic disease can translate into benefits for your brain, since its function can be affected by these conditions.

Regular physical activity is especially important in older adults since aging — combined with oxidative stress and inflammation — promotes changes in brain structure and function.

Exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s vital for memory and learning, to grow in size, which may help improve mental function in older adults.

Lastly, exercise has been shown to reduce changes in the brain that can contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

SUMMARY

Regular exercise improves blood flow to the brain and helps brain health and memory. Among older adults, it can help protect mental function.

8. Exercise can help with relaxation and sleep quality

Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better.

With regard to sleep quality, the energy depletion (loss) that occurs during exercise stimulates restorative processes during sleep.

Moreover, the increase in body temperature that occurs during exercise is thought to improve sleep quality by helping body temperature drop during sleep.

Many studies on the effects of exercise on sleep have reached similar conclusions.

One review of six studies found that participating in an exercise training program helped improve self-reported sleep quality and reduced sleep latency, which is the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.

One study conducted over 4 months found that both stretching and resistance exercise led to improvements in sleep for people with chronic insomnia.

Getting back to sleep after waking, sleep duration, and sleep quality improved after both stretching and resistance exercise. Anxiety was also reduced in the stretching group.

What’s more, engaging in regular exercise seems to benefit older adults, who are often affected by sleep disorders.

You can be flexible with the kind of exercise you choose. It appears that either aerobic exercise alone or aerobic exercise combined with resistance training can both improve sleep quality.

SUMMARY

Regular physical activity, regardless of whether it is aerobic or a combination of aerobic and resistance training, can help you sleep better and feel more energized during the day.

9. Exercise can reduce pain

Although chronic pain can be debilitating, exercise can actually help reduce it.

In fact, for many years, the recommendation for treating chronic pain was rest and inactivity. However, recent studies show that exercise helps relieve chronic pain.

In fact, one review of several studies found that exercise can help those with chronic pain reduce their pain and improve their quality of life.

Several studies also show that exercise can help control pain associated with various health conditions, including chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic soft tissue shoulder disorder, to name a few.

Additionally, physical activity can also raise pain tolerance and decrease pain perception.

SUMMARY

Exercise has favorable effects on the pain associated with various conditions. It can also increase pain tolerance.

The bottom line

Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health. Regular physical activity can increase the production of hormones that make you feel happier and help you sleep better.

It can also:

  • improve your skin’s appearance
  • help you lose weight and keep it off
  • reduce the risk of chronic disease

And it doesn’t take much movement to make a big difference in your health.

If you aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week, you’ll meet the Department of Health and Human Services’ activity guidelines for adults.

Moderate intensity aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart beating faster, like walking, cycling, or swimming. Activities like running or participating in a strenuous fitness class count for vigorous intensity.

Throw in at least 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms), and you’ll exceed the recommendations.

You can use weights, resistance bands, or your bodyweight to perform muscle-strengthening exercises. These include squats, push-ups, shoulder press, chest, press, and planks.

Whether you practice a specific sport or follow the guideline of 150 minutes of activity per week, you can inevitably improve your health in many ways.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Best Foot Exercises for Healthy Feet

Article featured on Medical News Today

What are the best foot exercises for healthy feet?

Many people experience foot or ankle pain at some point. Keeping the feet strong can help alleviate this soreness and improve overall health and flexibility.

Regularly exercising and stretching the feet and ankles can help ensure that the muscles are providing the best support. These exercises may also increase range of motion in the feet, helping keep a person active for as long as possible.

Most foot exercises are simple and require no complicated equipment to perform. People can do them at home or in the gym as part of a regular exercise routine. The following exercises can improve flexibility and mobility in the feet.

1. Toe raise, point, and curl

This exercise has three stages and will help strengthen all parts of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Keeping the toes on the floor, raise the heels. Stop when only the balls of the feet remain on the ground.
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering the heels.
  4. For the second stage, raise the heels and point the toes so that only the tips of the big and second toes are touching the floor.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.
  6. For the third stage, raise the heels and curl the toes inward so that only the tips of the toes are touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  7. Build flexibility and mobility by repeating each stage 10 times.

2. Big toe stretch

Keeping a wide range of motion in the big toe is important. The following exercise also has three stages and is designed to stretch and relieve pain in the toes from wearing tight shoes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring the left foot to rest on the right thigh.
  3. Using the fingers, gently stretch the big toe up, down, and to the side.
  4. Keep the big toe in each position for 5 seconds.
  5. Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other foot.

Exercises for strength

The following exercises can help enhance the strength of the feet.

3. Toe splay

Doing the toe splay exercise can improve control over the toe muscles. People can do it on both feet at once or on alternate feet, depending on which they find more comfortable.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit in a straight backed chair, with the feet gently resting on the floor.
  2. Spread the toes apart as far as possible without straining. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  3. Repeat this motion 10 times.
  4. Once a person has built up their strength, they can try looping a rubber band around the toes. This will provide resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

4. Toe curls

Doing toe curls builds up the flexor muscles of the toes and feet, improving overall strength.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lay a small towel on the floor in front of the body, with the short side facing the feet.
  3. Place the toes of one foot on the short side of the towel. Try to grasp the towel between the toes and pull it toward oneself. Repeat this exercise five times before switching to the other foot.
  4. To make this exercise more challenging, try weighing down the opposite end of the towel with an object.

5. Marble pickup

Doing the marble pickup can increase strength in the muscles on the undersides of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place an empty bowl and a bowl of 20 marbles on the floor in front of the feet.
  3. Using only the toes of one foot, pick up each marble and place it in the empty bowl.
  4. Repeat this exercise using the other foot.

6. Sand walking

Walking barefoot on sand is a great way to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves. This is a good exercise in general because sand’s soft texture makes walking more physically demanding.

To do this exercise:

  1. Head to a beach, a desert, a volleyball court, or any other location with sand.
  2. Remove the shoes and socks.
  3. Walk for as long as possible. Try increasing the distance slowly over time to avoid overexerting the muscles in the feet and calves.
  4. The following exercises can be helpful for pain relief.

7. Toe extension

The toe extension is useful in preventing or treating plantar fasciitis, which is a condition that causes pain in the heel when walking and difficulty raising the toes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place the left foot on the right thigh.
  3. Pull the toes up toward the ankle. There should be a stretching feeling along the bottom of the foot and heel cord.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds. Massaging the arch of the foot while stretching will help ease tension and pain.
  5. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each foot.

8. Golf ball roll

Rolling a golf ball under the foot can help relieve discomfort in the arch and ease pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a golf ball — or another small, hard ball — on the floor next to the feet.
  3. Lay one foot on the ball and move it around, pressing down as hard as is comfortable. The ball should be massaging the bottom of the foot.
  4. Continue for 2 minutes, then repeat using the other foot.
  5. A frozen bottle of water can be a soothing alternative if no suitable balls are available.

9. Achilles stretch

The Achilles tendon is a cord connecting the heel to the calf muscles. It can strain easily, but keeping it strong may help with foot, ankle, or leg pain.

To do this exercise:

  1. Face a wall and raise the arms so that the palms of the hands are resting flat against the wall.
  2. Move one foot back, keeping the knee straight. Then, bend the knee of the opposite leg.
  3. Keep both the heels flat on the floor.
  4. Push the hips forward until there is a stretching feeling in the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat three times on each side.
  6. For a slightly different stretch, bend the back knee and push the hips forward.

Foot health and safety tips

To help keep the feet strong and healthy:

  1. Complete a thorough warmup routine before exercising.
  2. Wear supportive footwear for day-to-day activities and sports.
  3. Replace worn-down shoes as often as possible.
  4. Build up strength and flexibility slowly to condition the feet and ankles.
  5. Avoid uneven surfaces, especially when running. Try not to run uphill too often.
  6. Listen to the body. Do not overdo activities.
  7. Prevent any recurrence of injury by resting and seeking appropriate treatment.

Summary

Keeping the feet and ankles healthy is a good idea. Performing the exercises above can help ease existing pain, prevent discomfort, and reduce the risk of injury.

People with a diagnosed foot condition such as plantar fasciitis or strain to the Achilles tendon may wish to try exercises to help.

Always check with a healthcare professional, if possible, before starting a new exercise and stretching routine.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

6 Benefits of Trail Running

Article featured on Verywellfit

If you’re tired of running the same routes on city streets or on the treadmill, then trail running may be a great way to break the boredom, reduce your risk of injury, and challenge yourself in a new way.

Trail running is exactly what it sounds like: lacing up those sneakers to clock the miles in nature. The difference between road running and trail running is that trail running is a bit more unpredictable, meaning you are not guaranteed a smooth, paved path.

While elevation changes may occur in both road and trail running, depending on the location, trail running may also have unpredictable terrain with surfaces (such as rocks, roots, and streams) that require a special shoe designed to help support your foot during this style of workout.

Health Benefits of Trail Running

According to Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., RDN, CSSD, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Exercise Science at Central Washington University, road running and trail running share similar benefits such as improved aerobic fitness, increased muscular endurance, and a boost for mental health. While Pritchett notes the cardiovascular outcomes are likely comparable between both types of running, research has yet to determine whether trail running provides a greater cardiovascular benefit than road running.

Nevertheless, science has shown us that trail running indeed has health benefits that extend far beyond our physical health. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits.

Promotes Longevity

Good news! A 2020 systematic review has shown that running was associated with a lower risk of death related to cardiovascular and cancer disease states in both men and women. Pritchett points out this review did not have specific trends for weekly volume, pace, duration, or even terrain, yet noted that some running (or jogging) versus no running (or jogging) proved to have improved health in participants as well as longevity benefits. And, more is not necessarily better when it comes to logging those miles. The authors also noted that higher doses of running may not have greater mortality reduction benefits.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Whether running or jogging, you are moving more than just the muscles in your legs. Yes, your heart is a muscle too! With every stride you take, your heart is pumping out blood to help support your workout while strengthening itself over time.

A stronger heart sets you up for success, just like the 2020 systematic review above noted with a lower risk of mortality seen from cardiovascular disease in participants who logged any amount of running throughout their week.

While this benefit isn’t isolated to trail running, it’s a baseline for further research that could look at the cardiovascular differences between road versus trail running.

Improves Muscular Strength and Balance

Amanda Brooks, running coach and author of Run To The Finish: The Everyday Runner’s Guide to Avoiding Injury, Ignoring the Clock and Loving the Run, notes one of the best benefits she shares with her clients to get them on the trails is the added benefit of strength training that the terrain offers to work stabilizer muscles.

Pritchett agrees, sharing that given the varied terrain with trail running, runners may see improvements in lower limb strength, balance, and neuromuscular benefits. Plus, it reduces the impact on the joints due to the softer surface which may, in turn, reduce the risk of injury.

But, Pritchett advises moving with greater awareness as there may be a greater risk for tripping over roots or rocks. This is especially true when hydration and fueling are neglected and decision-making and cognition are impaired.

May Reduce the Rate of Some Injuries

Running on the road is harder on your joints than running on a soft surface like a trail. In fact, you may reduce your risk of certain injuries by heading out onto the trail instead of the pavement. In a study conducted in 2020, researchers compared road runners to trail runners and specifically analyzed the impact of each on the Achilles tendon. The study authors found that road runners have higher loads on the tendon and less shock absorption that can result in Achilles tendon structure changes.

Boosts Mood and Mental Well-Being

One of the best ways to get your “vitamin N” (nature) in to improve mental well-being, says Pritchett, is to run outdoors on trails. And the research agrees!

According to a 2020 study, participants who logged up to 6.5 miles of running on trails self-reported higher wellness and health scores on the surveys. While there are limitations to this research, including the self-reported survey and limited diversity in the sample, it does complement the earlier research.

A study published in 2019 that showed both experienced and novice runners preferred specific characteristics in their running environments to gain the restorative capacity from their run, which included green and lively spaces.

Promotes Community

In a run funk? Grab your friends and lace-up together for the trails, or consider joining a running group to embrace the community aspect that running can provide.

Brooks shares that, “Trail running can bring some fun and joy back to a lot of runners, who spend their time so focused on paces when hitting the road.”

While she does note there are some limitations to trail running if you are working on speed work for a road race, there are also many benefits as we’ve seen above, and something many of us have missed over the past year: connection!

How to Reap the Benefits: Tips for Trail Running

If you are new to trail running (or running in general), Brooks offers tips to get your workout off on the right foot!

Invest in Trail Running Shoes

First, she reminds clients that trail shoes are necessary given they offer the additional traction needed when you hit the trail terrain. For those runners who are used to the road, embracing the slow down and remembering to pick up your feet is crucial.

Adjust Your Stride

“Picking up our feet sounds like an obvious thing”, says Brookes, “but distance runners sometimes have a little shuffle that helps them conserve energy. On the trails, dirt will grab that shuffle and slow down your pace, so there’s a need for greater awareness of your foot-strike.”

Fuel and Hydrate Strategically

For those seasoned trail runners participating in trail ultra-events that can last greater than four hours, Pritchett notes the extreme demand from a physiological perspective placed on the body including dehydration, neuromuscular fatigue, inflammation, exercise-induced muscle damage, and glycogen depletion.

To prepare your body properly for these events, Pritchett points out research has shown adequate carbohydrate intake and hydration during training and races can help delay fatigue and improve performance in these situations, meaning fueling pre, during, and post-trail runs can greatly impact your overall experience with the trail run.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.