Maintaining an Active Lifestyle for Your Heart

By Andrew Grahovec with Contributions from Alexander Brook, PT, DPT for ATI Physical Therapy

Physical activity and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is important for your overall health – but just how important is it? Being physically active can reduce the risk of serious noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer. It’s important to understand why physical activity is important for your heart, how much you need on a weekly basis and what types you can perform at home or at the gym.

How important is physical activity?

A 2016 meta-analysis in the Journal of American Heart Association (JAHA) found that by increasing physical activity by 11.25 MET (metabolic equivalent – how much energy you’re expending) hours a week, the risk of cardiovascular mortality and the incidence of diabetes mellitus is reduced 23 and 26 percent, respectively. The World Journal of Cardiology (WJC) reports that physical activity can also slow the progression, lessen the impact and prevent recurrence of heart diseases. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recognizes the association between physical activity and reduction of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and better cognitive functioning. Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., but it can also be prevented or treated with physical activity.

How much physical activity do you need?

The goal of 11.25 hours a week can be broken down to a recommended 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day for five days) of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of high intensity activity. Additional benefits can be seen with an increase up to 300 minutes a week. While these are the recommended values, any activity is better than no activity and we all must start somewhere. Gradual, small increases in activity can lead to major health benefits.

What types of physical activities can you perform?

Prior to beginning any workout plan, talk with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to start a workout program. Any good workout program should consist of a warm up, the exercise and a cool down. Cardio isn’t the only way to get a good workout or reach your physical activity goal – strength training is an integral part of any good routine.

For your warm up, perform at least five minutes of low-level aerobic activities such as light walking or biking and dynamic stretching before going into your workout. After your workout, make sure to cool down for five to 10 minutes with a gradual decrease in activity and add in some stretching to stay loose. Here are some great examples of different activities you can perform for your workout:

Moderate Intensity

  • Brisk walking on the treadmill or track
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling (outside or stationary) less than 10 mph
  • Gardening
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Golf

Vigorous Intensity

  • Jogging/running
  • Swimming laps
  • Hiking
  • Lifting weights
  • Jumping rope
  • Competitive/organized sports

While this is in no way a full or comprehensive list, it gives you an easy way to start increasing your activity levels and becoming a healthier you.

Are aches and pains getting in the way of your daily activities or from starting an exercise program?

Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary screening and get back to doing you. Our experts will listen to your concerns, evaluate your injury and create a safe and effective plan to help you reach your goals and live a healthy, active lifestyle.

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How Artificial Intelligence is Revolutionizing Health Care

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Dr. Chris Stout, Vice President of Research and Data Analytics with ATI Physical Therapy discusses how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing health care.

Dr. Stout, is also on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Chicago – College of Medicine. He founded a 501(c)(3) to work on international humanitarian projects, and subsequently has won five international humanitarian awards and four additional honorary doctorates. 

Stout joined ATI in 2008 with a diverse background in research, psychology and education. Stout’s impressive academic resume includes degrees from Purdue, The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business and the Forest Institute. He also obtained a post-doctoral experience at Harvard Medical School as a Fellow in neuro-developmental behavioral pediatrics.

Highly respected in his field, Stout has published over 300 papers and 35 books, is a coveted LinkedIn influencer with over 50,000+ followers, has lectured around the world, and been a featured guest on CNN, NBC and PBS.

Overseeing one of the industry’s first Research and Data Analytics departments, Stout and his team have had an enormous impact on ATI’s approach to clinical care. His research and data strategy has helped ATI become an innovative leader in physical therapy and patient outcomes.

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

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About Minimally Invasive Hip and Knee Replacement

Dr. Richard Berger of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush discusses minimally invasive hip and knee replacement, allowing patients to recover faster with less pain.

Dr. Berger has pioneered minimally invasive hip and knee replacement, allowing patients to recover faster with less pain than with traditional hip and knee replacement surgery. His degree in mechanical engineering from MIT has helped him design specialized instruments which allow the surgery to be done without cutting any muscle, tendons, or ligaments. These advances allow most of Dr. Berger’s patients to walk independently and leave the hospital the day of surgery. His mechanical engineering background has also helped him to design gender-specific implants that fit and perform better for active patients. dr richard berger

Dr. Berger was fellowship trained in adult reconstruction at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Berger also conducts research on hip and knee replacements.

Dr. Berger, as part of his pioneering role in minimally invasive surgery, has developed specialized instruments, techniques for surgery, as well as knee and hip implants. As the developer, Dr. Berger receives royalties and payments from the manufacturers of these devices.

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

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Do I Have Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfers who play on a regular basis are bound to experience injuries from time to time.

One common condition among golfers is medial epicondylitis, a form of tendonitis commonly referred to as golfer’s elbow. Symptoms include tenderness and occasional sharp pains on the inside of the elbow, caused by inflammation or tiny tears in tendons near the elbow. The pain centers on the bony bump on the inside of the elbow and may radiate into the forearm.

Many professional players, including Tiger Woods, have battled golfer’s elbow. In 2013, Woods was forced to withdraw from the AT&T National due to reported tenderness on the inside of his left elbow. Woods first experienced issues with his elbow at the U.S. Open that year when he was hitting out of the rough. That pain, along with tenderness, swelling and weakness on the inside of the elbow indicates a probable golfer’s elbow.

This condition is usually triggered by overuse of the muscles in the forearm that allow you to grip, rotate your arm, and flex your wrist. Repetitive flexing, gripping, or swinging can cause inflammation or tiny tears in the tendons.

But Woods, who has been no stranger to injuries throughout his career, admitted that his elbow issues first set in even earlier in 2013 during the Players Championship.

According to Dr. Mark Cohen, a hand, wrist and elbow specialist at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, golfer’s elbow is actually about 10 times less common than tennis elbow.  Tennis elbow is a similar tendinitis condition which occurs on the outside of the elbow near the lateral epicondyle.

Although Woods took several weeks away from tournament play in 2013, Dr. Cohen said players who experience golfer’s elbow do not need to resort to stop playing altogether.

“There is no real need to be concerned or worried about this type of tendinitis,” Dr. Cohen said.

“It is not progressive, it is self-limiting, and the vast majority of cases improve over time.”

Dr. Cohen said that golfer’s elbow can be treated simply by applying ice, stretching, along with the use of a compression sleeve and anti-inflammatory medication.

When it comes to seeking treatment, Dr. Cohen said there is no benefit to early medical intervention. Playing through any discomfort, he added, is usually fine if the pain is tolerable.  Rest does not typically help elbow tendinitis, Dr. Cohen added. Golfers should know, however, that it is not uncommon for low-grade symptoms to persist for many months before the condition resolves.

As golfers begin the season, Dr. Cohen recommends that stretching become part of their regular routine. Because the golf swing includes repetitive motion and muscle memory, golfers should not be surprised by levels of discomfort that follows.

To prevent pain from occurring, Dr. Cohen suggests a high repetition and low resistance exercise program, and possibly introducing light weights into one’s workout regimen. If elbow issues are a concern, Dr. Cohen suggests that golfers have their swing evaluated by a professional, as poor swing mechanics may lead to players experiencing excessive stress across the elbow, which, in turn, could precipitate symptoms.

Dr. Mark CohenDr. Cohen was again selected one of Chicago’s “Top Doctors” in Hand and Orthopaedic Surgery by Chicago Magazine in 2018. He was previously honored in this fashion in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018, every year the “Top Doctors” edition has been published. U.S.News & World Report rates him in the top 1% of physicians in his specialty in the nation. Dr. Cohen was recently named the 2017 recipient of the Excellence in Clinical Service award by Rush University, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate continuous excellence in clinical care, leadership and scholarship. Read more>>

To make an appointment with Dr. Mark Cohen to discuss your upper extremity concerns, call 877-MD-BONES or visit

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Ask the Doctor!

This regular segment of ‘Ask the Doctor’ addresses questions submitted by Sports Medicine Weekly followers. Dr. Brian Cole from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush will be discussing:

  • Painful knee popping and locking with swelling
  • The significance of ‘night pain’
  • Preparing physically for training hard at the beginning of a new season

Sports Medicine Weekly on 670 The Score

If you have a question to be addressed on an upcoming show, please click here to submit your question.

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