Every October, chiropractors around the country celebrate National Chiropractic Health Month.
Also every October, this month dedicated to the benefits of chiropractic care is given a central theme. This year’s theme is “Move 4 Life.”
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) explains that the goal of this year’s slogan is to promote the benefits of movement, both as a way to improve overall health and also to reduce incidences of back pain.
Thus, the ACA is using October’s motto to inspire DCs across the U.S. to help their patients get active and stay that way. This starts with supplying them with the guidelines recommended with regard to aerobic activity, strength training and maximum flexibility.
Aerobic activity guidelines
The current physical activity guidelines offered by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) were actually established in 2008 and vary depending on age.
For instance, for children and adolescents, the ODPHP recommends engaging in 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Additionally, this hour should consist primarily of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, with three vigorous-intensity aerobic sessions per week.
The ODPHP’s suggestions for adults are a bit different as they are based on weekly goals versus daily recommendations. With this in mind, the ODPHP suggests that adults engage in aerobic exercise 2.5 hours a week if the activity is moderate in intensity or 1.25 hours (75 minutes) per week if the exercise is more vigorous in nature.
If the adult is in fairly good physical shape, however, and wants to achieve greater health benefits, the recommendation is to increase moderate-level activity to 5 hours per week and vigorous activity to 2.5 hours per week. These aerobic sessions should be at least 10 minutes in length each.
For older adults, if they are unable to meet the minimum recommended guidelines for adults, the ODPHP indicates that “they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.” It is also recommended that older adults who struggle with chronic conditions take extra precautions to exercise safely.
Strength training recommendations
The ODPHP also provides recommendations designed to help people improve muscle strength so as to enjoy higher levels of health. Specifically, those recommendations for children and adolescents are to incorporate strength training exercises at least three days per week. For adults, the suggestion is to perform strength training a minimum of two days each week, preferably more.
Michigan State University (MSU) explains that developing better muscle strength provides a number of benefits. These include sustaining lower levels of body fat, creating stronger bones, and increasing energy levels. Engaging in regular strength training sessions also helps individuals better maintain a healthy posture, reduces injury risk, and makes it easier to perform everyday tasks.
In addition to meeting the time requirements as set forth by the ODPHP, MSU breaks this down further by suggesting that individuals perform two to four sets of each individual exercise when working to improve muscle strength. The number of repetitions recommended per set depend largely on the individual’s goals:
- Improve strength and power: 8 to 12 reps.
- Improve muscle endurance: 15 to 20 reps.
MSU adds that, if the person is middle-aged or older and just starting to exercise, 10 to 15 repetitions are best.
Improving joint flexibility
Flexibility is the most neglected component of physical fitness, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) even though it is “vital for the maintenance of pain-free and independent movement.” Plus, if this type of training is not conducted regularly, a person’s level of flexibility will likely decrease with age.
To achieve and maintain maximum flexibility, ACE recommends performing flexibility-enhancing exercises a minimum of three days per week, preferably more. To get the most from these stretches, ACE further suggests that each area be stretched two to three times, with the individual holding the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and stretching until there is mild discomfort, but no pain.
Ways to promote National Chiropractic Month 2018
Sharing this information with patients will help them understand how much physical activity is needed in each of these areas to achieve maximum health benefits based on their age.
It also gives DCs the opportunity to discuss the types of activities the individual could add to their physical activity regimen based on their current fitness levels, as well as their health-related goals.
One way to bring this information to the forefront is by talking one-on-one with patients during adjustment sessions, using National Chiropractic Month as a way to open the conversation.
Another option is to hold a “Move 4 Life” event, potentially even combining forces with a personal trainer or other exercise specialist who can help attendees learn what types of exercise are best and how to perform them safely.
You could also create informational pamphlets so patients can take them home and reference them later. Alternatively, send emails once a week for the month of October, encouraging patients to meet their fitness goals and reminding them of the benefits of staying physically active.
National Chiropractic Month is a great opportunity for DC’s to reinforce the advantages of getting and staying physically active, both for patients and for themselves.