Physical exercise essential for a strong mind

Physical exercise essential for a strong mind

While a relationship between the body and mind has long been theorized – 1st century Roman poet Juvenal once suggested people should pray for “mens sana in corpore sano” (a sound mind in a sound body) over power and wealth – Buffalo Grove physical therapist Gopal Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS, points out that there does exist a strong physiological connection between exercise and improved memory, per well-documented science.

“Researchers generally agree that one of the most important things you can do to boost memory and guard against amnesia is to make regular exercise a part of your daily routine,” said Dr. Raghunath, owner/clinical director of Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, P.C. “Movement in the form of exercise is indeed a powerful tool to combat disease and dysfunction, while optimize quality of life.”


A recent study by the National Institute on Aging, published in the journal Cell Metabolism last month (June 2016), discusses the potent effects of exercise and the mind-body connection. The study demonstrated that during exercise, muscles release a protein called Cathespin B to help stimulate production of new cells in the Hippocampus – a part of the brain that controls memory.

This is just the latest in an extensive history of scientific research asserting the benefits of exercise on improved memory, delayed onset of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, and improved mental faculty for aging individuals.

A Mayo Clinic study discovered that adults who engage in moderate exercise 5 to 6 times per week can reduce their risk of cognitive impairments such as loss of memory and comprehension by up to 32 percent due to increased blood flow to the brain.

“Moreover, regular exercise helps improve mood and sleep, while also reducing stress and anxiety, among a host of other general health benefits,” said Dr. Raghunath.

A physical therapist is a movement specialist trained to assess and treat people suffering from pain due to injury and dysfunction, that make regular exercise or even just getting through the day a formidable task. If an ailment is sidelining your ability to establish and maintain a sound mind and body, allow the team at Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation to help put you on the path toward improved health and happiness.

Back pain? Studies advise seek PT first, says Buffalo Grove physical therapist

Back pain? Studies advise seek PT first, says Buffalo Grove physical therapist

Progressive therapeutic exercise plays a significant role in minimizing and/or preventing chronic low-back pain, and reinforces the healing power movement has on our everyday lives, says Gopal T. Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS, owner/clinic director of Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, P.C.

A study, published last month in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), found that exercise reduced the risk of recurrent low-back pain by between 25 to 40 percent.

“For movement to be truly medicinal we must first move well and then move often,” said Dr. Raghunath. “This concept is illustrated every day in the clinic, and continually supported via countless research on back pain.”

Eighty percent of the U.S. population will experience an episode of low-back pain at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health, with 25 percent of the population having already suffered a bout of symptoms within the last three months. Low-back pain, accounts for 10 percent of primary care visits and $86 billion in annual health care expenditures.

A 2015 study published by BMC Health Services asserts that many of the costs associated with acute, non-specific back pain can be reduced by up to 60 percent when individuals seek early physical therapy intervention.

“Prescription medication and advanced imaging, such as MRI/CT scans, are indeed important and have its place and time to help control
symptoms and pinpoint etiology of the condition, respectively,” Dr. Raghunath said. “However, evidence suggests physical therapy as the
appropriate first step in treating low-back pain, which is also more cost effective.”

Studies have even demonstrated that physical therapy can help individuals either prolong or, in some instances, avoid surgery, depending on the nature and severity of the condition. For example:

Lumbar Stenosis: This is a narrowing of the spinal canal, causing irritation and/or compression of the nerve roots branching off of the spinal cord that innervate the back and lower legs, resulting in pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and abnormal sensation/reflexes. A study published in the April 2015 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine states that Lumbar Stenosis can be treated just as successfully with physical therapy as with surgery, and with 15 percent fewer complications.

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD): The thinning of the intervertebral discs, located between each of the spinal segments that act as shock absorbers, affecting 3 million people per year. A 2013 study conducted at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital found that patients who pursued surgical intervention to treat DDD did not experience greater relief in pain/disability, or improved health status, as compared with individuals who opted for physical therapy.

“A well-trained, licensed physical therapist can often effectively treat low-back pain conservatively via manual therapy, progressive functional mobility and/or stability training, cardiorespiratory conditioning, and education on appropriate activity level modification per a patient’s presenting symptoms.” said Dr. Raghunath. “If you or someone you know is experiencing acute or chronic low-back pain, a visit with an experienced physical therapist can lead to restored optimal spine function and get you back on the path to optimal health and happiness.”

Exercise balance to prevent falls, says Buffalo Grove physical therapist

Exercise balance to prevent falls, says Buffalo Grove physical therapist

Just as a reduction in resistance training can make us weaker and fewer miles on the treadmill can reduce our cardiovascular fitness levels, maintaining good balance as you age requires a continued effort, says physical therapist Gopal Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS, of Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation.

“An individual’s risk of fall-related injuries increases as they age,” Dr. Raghunath said. “Oftentimes, poor balance is a byproduct of a specific dysfunction, such as joint and muscle strength and flexibility imbalances, or perhaps a chronic medical condition such as osteoporosis.”

Statistics confirm that good balance becomes increasingly critical in the prevention of falls as you age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults 65 years and older fall each year, with up to 30 percent suffering moderate to severe injuries.

Such statistics, Dr. Raghunath points out, only serve to reinforce the need for regular exercise as you age. He adds that regular balance/movement screenings are invaluable in identifying deficits in fitness and strength that can lead to falls.

“A program consisting of regular progressive strength training exercises that replicate daily life activities and engages all major muscle groups, including the core muscles, as well as cardiovascular training to combat the effects of age-related deconditioning, can significantly reduce the incidence of falls,” Dr. Raghunath said.

Below are some simple and effective balance exercises recommended by Dr. Raghunath that can be performed at home and easily progressed based on
an individual’s level of fitness and conditioning:

Weight Shifts: Stand tall with abdominal and gluteal muscles braced tight and feet shoulder-width apart. While maintaining this position, slowly shift your bodyweight to one leg. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side. Repeat this sequence three times on each side.

Single-Leg Balance: Assume a standing position as above and lift one leg off the floor with your toe approximately a foot off the ground. Hold 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite leg. Repeat this sequence three times on each side.

Heel-to-toe Walk: Put one heel directly in front of the opposite toe and continue walking forward slowly – as a like a person on a tightrope. Repeat 20 steps forward and then 20 steps backward.

Dr. Raghunath recommends performing these exercises near a wall or sturdy object in case you experience unsteadiness. Before beginning these or other exercises, schedule a consultation at Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, P.C., where Dr. Raghunath will take you through a
comprehensive examination to determine what exercises are appropriate for you based on your presenting condition.