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LifeStyle Disorders and role of Physiotherapy

Lifestyle can be defined as the way to live one’s life. The world is witnessing a growing prevalence of various health-related issues owing to changing lifestyle irrespective of age or gender. A lifestyle of a person is a combination of his or her physical and mental functioning and is the result of various factors like habits, behavior, physical activity, dietary patterns, and preferences. By saying lifestyle disorders means health issues resulting from a poor lifestyle which is a consequence of leading a sedentary life, lack of sufficient physical activity in our day to today work, less inclination towards maintaining the fitness of the body and a diet that is lacking in nutritious value and is full of calories.
Modernization, mechanization, use of gadgets have certainly made our life easy but it has come at the cost of health. Health issues that can be categorized under lifestyle disorders are both physical as well as mental. Diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, various types of cancers, obesity, breathing difficulties, depression, and anxieties are some of the consequences of leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Occupational lifestyle disorder can be defined as health problems like back pain, neck pain, stress headaches, and compression neuropathies, etc that result because of static and poor posture that we maintain at our workplace as well as the poor work environment. Altered biological clock and sustained mental pressure at the workplace also result in health issues like insomnia, indigestion, depression, anxiety and various other mental health issues.
Physiotherapists are the experts that aim to restore movement, function, and activities of daily living. As health experts, they not only play a crucial role in the management of lifestyle disorders but can also prevent most of them. Position statement by World Confederation of Physical Therapy has described Physiotherapy intervention as aimed at promotion and maintenance of health and fitness for all ages and population. They can not only identify risk factors responsible for noncommunicable disorders through proper evaluation and assessment but can also refer to other practitioners if needed. As health care professionals they also educate and guide about the importance of physical activity, exercises, volume and type of exercises and about diet modification. This can be done through an individually tailored exercise regimen, addressing behavioral changes which include cessation of smoking, optimal nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, the importance of regular physical activity and exercise, optimal sleep and strategies to avoid and tackle stress.
Childhood Obesity is one of the major health-related issue grappling the society which results from poor lifestyle. It can be controlled through prevention program through advocacy in schools and communities and by prescribing the right type and amount of physical activity and fitness program. American College of Sports Medicine recommends 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity exercises on most of the days of the week to maintain fitness and reduce the risk of developing noncommunicable disorder like diabetes and heart disease. Physiotherapists also recommend aerobic exercises for reducing the risk of developing heart diseases.
To conclude lifestyle disorders can cause significant morbidity and mortality but they are very much preventable. Physiotherapists as health care experts can educate, advise about the prevention of lifestyle disorders. They can also prescribe different types of exercises, evaluate health goals and may help to achieve those goals.

Dr. Sheetal Kalra
Professor
Faculty of Physiotherapy
SGT University, Gurugram

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