Lorn Healthy Options weekly health tip – May 12

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Walk the pain away

Musculoskeletal pain is a leading global health problem with one in every three people worldwide living with a condition characterised by pain or disability.

This can lead to reduced mobility and quality of life along with an increase in obesity and economic burden to the individual, businesses and the NHS.

Just recently the NHS put out another plea to those suffering with long term arthritic pain to increase their activity rates, reduce body weight and reduce the use of pain killing drugs whose use can become ineffective and potentially damaging and addictive with time.

Our skeletal structure is not designed to carry additional body fat with every additional kilogram of weight gain causing a three fold increase in force through the joints in our legs. This can lead to young and overweight individuals exhibiting the same kind of wear and tear we would expect to see in much older folk.

In fact wear and tear is not really the right term. We should think more of wear and repair but this can be problematic. As our joints begin to break down our body initiates an inflammatory response in a bid to replace lost cartilage and this additional bone production can lead to mis-shaped and very painful joints.

But there is hope for those suffering with chronic pain via the ‘medicine of movement’ and I don’t mean long distance events or high intensity gym work.

Research points to a substantial reductions in pain perception through regular moderate cardiovascular activity and this does not require the acquisition of a new bike or gym membership.

All of us will have access to somewhere where we can walk and it turns out that walking regular short distances will go a long way to improving joint function, combat obesity and dial down the pain response we experience from arthritic joints. An improvement in mobility can enhance our feelings of independence and quality of life and reduce the need for professional or family care.

At Healthy Options we are very aware of the benefits of a good walk not just from a physical point of view but also in terms of the mental health improvements we gain from time in natural environments or time spent in the company of others.

We run a well attended weekly ‘Rewild Walk’ where we take clients to local nature reserves, forest parks and coastal regions where many discover that their perception of what they can achieve physically was mis-guided through the confidence sapping effect of long term joint pain.

‘Our natural response to an aching joint is not to move it but unfortunately this only makes the problem much worse and the lack of activity is usually accompanied by more weight gain. You can see where this ends up?

Not everyone can complete a three mile walk though and so we are very happy to announce a new addition to our activity programme in the form of ‘The Wee Wander’ which will start soon and cater for those who are keen to get outside but would feel more comfortable with a short flat walk in the company of those with similar ability levels.

In this amazing part of the world we don’t need to venture far from our home to experience amazing scenery and wildlife so whether you come to Healthy Options or not please get out there and perhaps you could just walk yourself to a healthier place?

Rob Graham, lead exercise professional, Healthy Options.