Whether an individual wants to improve their heart health or needs rehabilitation following a stroke or heart attack, a physical therapist can help. The average adult has a heart that beats 72 times per minute, circulating oxygenated blood throughout the body, but without appropriate exercise it weakens.
The heart is an amazing piece of bio-engineering, but a variety of factors can interfere with its proper functioning that includes smoking, alcohol, high cholesterol levels and stress. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and many of those deaths could be prevented with a physical therapist designed program to keep the heart healthy.
Even patients who have smoked for many years and quit or led a sedentary lifestyle can benefit from heart-directed physical therapy. The heart is a muscle like any other and benefits from exercise and lifestyle changes. Many people have experienced difficulty performing even simple tasks like sitting or standing that can be linked to poor heart health.
Physical therapy is beneficial for individuals who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and heart disease, along with children that have cardiac conditions and those who are bedridden or rely on a wheelchair for mobility. It’s never too late to begin a heart healthy physical therapy program.
Just 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can significantly improve heart health. A heart in healthy condition beats easier and with less effort. It’s stronger and better able to meet a variety of additional demands made upon it by its owner. Physical therapy can help with:
- Mobility issues
- Lifestyle changes
- Nutritional advice
- Lower stress
- Weight control
- Reduce the risk of stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased endurance
Even a modest amount of exercise is beneficial for the heart. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, boring and leave individuals breathless to be valuable. Swimming, yoga and walking are all excellent forms of exercise that can be incorporated into a heart healthy physical therapy program.
Aerobic activities are especially beneficial to strengthen and reduce the risk of heart-related disease and the potential of a second coronary event for individuals who have already had a heart attack. Not all patients may be good candidates for aerobic exercise and other options will be utilized.
Your physical therapist has a wide variety of methods, techniques and treatments that can be incorporated into an exercise program for your heart. Your exercise program will factor in your current fitness level and any chronic conditions or limitations. It will be individualized and be adjustable to accommodate your changing needs.
Clinical Pilates, aerobic exercises, and yoga are all beneficial for heart health. Manual manipulation may be employed if you are restricted to a wheelchair or bed or have other limitations that create a situation in which you’re not fully able to participate in exercise on your own.
Hydrotherapy is a method that adds an extra level of enjoyment to exercise sessions. You’ll exercise in water that buoys the body, thereby reducing the weight and gravity that’s placed upon your body for easier movement. It’s particularly effective and beneficial if you also have joint pain or COPD. Hydrotherapy acts as mild resistance training and soothes away stress that contributes to heart conditions.
Therapeutic massage is beneficial for relieving stress, improving circulation and improving sleep, all of which are beneficial for your heart. The therapy boosts the immune system, aids in reducing blood pressure, and is an integral part of stress or anger management plans and smoking cessation programs.
Your physical therapist can provide recommendations on nutrition, dietary supplements and weight loss programs for heart health. Assistance is available with mobility aids if you’ve had a cardiac event and are getting back in shape or undergoing rehabilitation. Your therapist can also help with lifestyle changes to benefit cardiac health.
Your physical therapist is an expert in body movement and can create a customized program of exercise and nutrition to strengthen your heart, keep it healthy and build endurance. Lowering your risk of cardiac related problems is just one of the benefits of physical therapy and can keep your heart healthy for life.