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Physical Therapy Professors Help Individuals Make Informed, Healthy Decisions

RADFORD --Making the commitment to be physically active is one of the best ways children and adults can prevent or combat obesity and its consequences, according to Ed Swanson, the founding program chair of Radford University's doctoral program in physical therapy.

Swanson, an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) member and physical therapist, helped spread the word throughout October – National Physical Therapy Month – about how physical therapists can help individuals reap the benefits of living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Regularly-scheduled exercise, Swanson notes, such as walking, bicycling or weight training, is a keystone to controlling weight. Families should be at the forefront of establishing good physical activity habits.

“It’s much more motivational if everyone in the family participates in a physical activity program together, and done over time, it can create a lifestyle change, which is often permanent,” Swanson says.

Children and adults who participate in sustained daily physical activity and follow a balanced diet enjoy improved cardiovascular fitness, greater bone mass and strength, and are better able to manage their weight ― all of which can help prevent the onset of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

"It doesn't take expensive equipment to go for a walk, throw or kick a ball, or skip rope,” says physical therapist and APTA member Renee Huth, director of clinical education at RU and an assistant professor in the doctoral program in physical therapy. “Children who start exercising early and having fun doing so will more likely make it a priority in adulthood."

Physical therapists help families balance the many priorities they have for their children and help find ways to incorporate physical activity into children’s play, leisure time and daily family routines. For obese children and adults, promoting movement, reducing pain when it is present, maintaining or restoring function and preventing disability are the goals of a physical therapist-designed exercise program.

Physical therapists also incorporate behavior modification into weight loss programs and help individuals set goals and monitor his or her behavior. Frequent contact, feedback and continuous motivation and support are all components of behavioral programs that physical therapists provide in individual and group settings.

“The guidance and encouragement of a physical therapist who understands individual needs, priorities and challenges and who is able to closely support and monitor progress can be the determining factor in helping an individual to achieve his or her goals,” says Huth.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 74,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at Consumers are encouraged to follow the APTA on Twitter and Facebook.

November 23, 2010
Chad Osborne; 540-831-7761

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