|Special Populations and Exercise: |
A New Era In Fitness
A Basic Medical Exercise Program
What constitutes a medical exercise program? Does an adult onset diabetic person have a different exercise program than an arthritic patient? As exercise programming is as individual as people, no two should have the exact type of program. Whether patients are working out in a supervised exercise setting, or participating in an aerobic exercise class, there are a few types of guidelines that are universal, and may help structure individual exercise.
There is no one type of exercise routine for medical situations, so no sample program is listed. A bit of reading and investigating by the individual will help them gain access to qualified professionals to help them start on their own program.
- Proper monitoring before exercise. Whether is is blood sugar monitoring, using a blood pressure cuff, taking a temperature reading, or stepping on the scale, performing a physical reading pre-exercise is important to see how hard and long you may be able to perform.
- Proper warm-up. In a class full of students, or on your own, getting the muscles prepared for exercise is as easy as doing some light aerobic movements, and large-muscle stretching activities to get ready for the body of the exercise.
- New goals and objectives. The goals for therapeutic exercises are - pain free movement, improved functional ability, learning new body movements, and perfecting technique on whatever type of exercise you are performing. If people thought about improving their technique in the weight room, or the aerobic dance floor, they would decrease their risks of ever having an injury - as the competitive nature of exercise takes a back seat to self-improvement and self-awareness. It has been said that Socrates learned to dance at 70 years of age because he felt that a part of himself needed improvement. Therapeutic exercise is half education, and half workout. Teaching patients new physical skills, and offering them instruction on how to deal with new movement is part of the objectives. It differs from mainstream exercise programs where individuals need much less guidance. The rewards are not just improvements in physical condition, but new tools to work with on their own (at home), and hopefully a new found sense of self acceptance and confidence to become healthier, and more self reliant.
- Proper warm-down. In sports, warm down may mean a few stretches before going home. The importance of proper warm down in therapeutic situations cannot be overlooked. It is time for breathing (slow, proper belly breathing), it is a time for reflection and relaxation, and getting yourself "centered", and it is a time to let the muscles flush out the extra work they have been asked to perform, and be able to function properly the next day without undue soreness. For patients who have been in stressful healing situations, the warm down serves as their focus to reduce pain, increase mental strength, and increase their own healing abilities.
Exercise in medicine, despite all of the research expounding its benefits, is still in its infancy. There are scattered programs around the country that provide exercise therapy for medical patients. Many health professionals are hesitant to refer patients to health clubs, as most employees are not well versed in medical aspects of disease. For those with extensive exercise physiology backgrounds, setting up private practice is also difficult, as the profession is not a licensed entity.
About The Author
Eric Durak received his Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1986. His research experience is in the application of exercise for special population groups, such as diabetes, high risk pregnancy, cancer, and metabolic disorders. He has published scientific articles in journals such as: The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Diabetes Care, The......more