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  • Greater than 1/3 of the population is instructed by healthcare professionals to lose weight every year.
  • Most of these people have some functional limitations that can lead to their inability to exercise.
  • Most of these people do not seek professional help to lose their excess body weight.
  • Obesity costs nearly 150 billion dollars per year in the US.
  • Seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist if you have difficulty performing an exercise routine on a regular basis due to functional limitations.

People struggling with obesity can suffer from discouragement, physical limitations, and a range of health problems. At times, losing weight may feel like a losing struggle. Physical Therapists offer expertise and tools that can help.  They can introduce a custom weight loss program that incorporates an exercise routine geared towards cardiovascular and musculoskeletal improvement while “burning” calories to reduce body weight.  While many overweight people may have functional limitations, the therapist can help them grow into a program that offers success in the long term.

A recent study was conducted that involved nearly 6000 subjects that ranged in age from 40 – 65 years old and had diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and professions. Nearly 1/3 of these people responded that they had been instructed at least 1x in the past year to lose weight and incorporate an exercise routine as part of their weight loss program.

The subjects were asked about simple tasks that most “healthy” individuals can perform with very little difficulty.  These tasks included walking a ¼ mile, walking up 10 stairs without rest, dressing, standing up from an armless chair, preparing meals and pulling/pushing a large object.  The results of the questionnaire indicated that more than 1/3 of all of the respondents had some functional limitations that could inhibit their ability to perform an exercise routine as part of their weight loss program.  Many of these people had limitations with basic activities of daily living (BADLs).  Most of these individuals had co-morbidities, including diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, orthopaedic conditions and obesity that were part of the reason they had functional limitations. Greater than half of this group attempted to lose weight and utilize exercise as part of their program, but less than 10% had actually sought the advice as to “how to do it” by a healthcare professional.

It is obvious that low levels of activity can be caused by the functional limitations and it would be in the individual’s best interest to seek the advice and counsel of qualified healthcare professionals that could derive a thorough and safe program that would help them lose weight.  There is a strong need for these individuals to be closely monitored while they exercise so the proper modifications can be made during the exercise routine to prevent injury.

The programs should include strength development, muscular endurance training, cardiovascular enhancement and flexibility exercises.  Physical Therapists and formally educated personal trainers can help an individual implement a well-rounded exercise routine focused on accomplishing their goals safely.  For the greatest success, patients must commit to a lifestyle change and a long-term program that will eventually help them overcome any physical deficits that might be present.

Exercise should be a large part of a weight loss program and in most instances could begin immediately with the proper supervision.  If people’s functional limitations are so numerous that they are unable to begin immediately, the emphasis of their program (besides caloric reduction) should be to overcome the functional limitation as quickly as possible.  This will enable them to begin a full-fledged exercise routine.

A large portion of the population is over-weight and has been counseled to lose weight by a healthcare professional.  If they seek the advice and help of proper professionals, they can be successful in their weight loss efforts with patience and time.

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