Keys to Avoiding an Exercise Hibernation This Winter

As the days shorten and the weather cools, heralding the approach of another winter, our physical therapy team offers a word of warning: 

While hibernation may seem appealing this time of year, especially as we trudge through the current health crisis, it’s paramount we all continue to stay active with regular aerobic and strength training. 

Regular exercise is good for us on countless levels. We all know this. 

However, as people tend to feel more sluggish and unmotivated this time of year, we remind everyone to strive to remain “summer active” as we wind down 2020. 

Not only will this help keep us both physically elevated and mentally sharp during colder, darker months. It can also help us stay out of the doctor’s office. 

That’s right. 

Exercise itself, combined with some of the benefits experienced by those who exercise regularly (i.e., lower weight, greater energy, better, sleep, a more positive attitude), give our bodies a good immunity boost. 

And, as we all know, these benefits come along with many others including lower blood pressure; the prevention or management of several health issues like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression, etc. 

Considering all this, the fact that exercise is critical no matter the time of year cannot be overstated. 

How Much Exercise Do We Need? 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, exercise guidelines suggest we all need two types of activity: aerobic and strength (resistance) training. 

Aerobic Activity 

The average person should get a weekly total of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (e.g., brisk walking, swimming, etc.) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (e.g., running, cycling, aerobics, etc.). 

Strength Training 

Strength training for all major muscle groups should be done twice each week. This involves at least a single set of exercise per muscle group, at a weight that tires your muscles after 12 to 15 reps. 

Depending on the shape you’re in or your medical history, these guidelines can be adjusted slightly one way or the other to accommodate your limitations and your exercise goals. It’s important to consult your physician and your physical therapist before getting started on any new program. 

Establish a Routine 

Once your specific exercise requirements are set, the next challenge is establishing a consistent routine. For this, we offer the following advice: 

Set a Goal 

Write it down, and be as specific as possible. “I want to lose weight” won’t work. A better goal would be, “I want to lose 15 pounds over the next 90 days.”  

Be Consistent 

Create a weekly routine for yourself that’s repeated day after day, week after week. Follow these routines until they become habit, like showering in the morning, brushing your teeth, or making dinner. 

Work Out with a Friend 

Whether walking, running, going to the gym, or taking an exercise class, do it with a friend (or friends). This is a great way to be accountable and to support one another with motivation. 

Put It on the Calendar 

Take your exercise times as seriously as work meetings and social gatherings. Block these times out on your calendar … but not “as time permits.” Be selfish with these times. 

Be Competitive 

According to a 2016 study published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports, competition was an overwhelmingly greater motivator than social support. This doesn’t mean you need to run out and sign up for a race. Simply find ways (either interpersonal or online) to make your workouts competitive. 

How Physical Therapy Can Help 

Of course, if motivation and planning isn’t a problem but pain or movement limitations are, it may be time to consult with a physical therapist. 

The first step is to simply schedule a pain, movement or injury assessment with one of our PTs. Once your issues and their causes are determined, we can provide you with a personalized plan for treating and correcting all that’s holding you back! 

5 Ways to Feel Gratitude in the Face of Challenges

November is a month when gratitude takes its place in the spotlight of American culture. Yet, with the challenges our country has faced this year, a popular notion as we approach the final weeks of 2020 is “let’s just get this year over with.” 

While she understands the sentiment, Tampa physical therapist Dr. Ginger Hoang Le would like to remind people that it’s possible to be thankful for, and even embrace, the challenges we experience in life. 

“When we consider what we have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season, let’s not overlook the ways challenges can have a positive effect on our lives,” said Hoang Le, owner of Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving in Tampa, New Port Richey, Wesley Chapel and Plant City. 

“Yes, it’s been a tough year in so many ways, but being able to express gratitude in the face of all these challenges isn’t just good for the soul. Research shows it’s also good for overall health.” 

One study from 2012, for example, reported that grateful people generally experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling “healthier” than other groups. This is no surprise when you consider that, based on various research, grateful people exercise more, get better sleep, and follow up on regular health check-ups. 

From a psychological perspective, higher levels of gratitude increase happiness, reduce depression and aggression, and cultivate resilience in life. 

“We could all use a little more positivity, whether we’re talking about 2020 or any other year,” Hoang Le said. “The key, even in the face of big challenges, is to actively identify and express gratitude in our day-to-day lives.” 

How? Hoang Le offers the following advice: 

Embrace Your Challenges

This is oftentimes easier said than done, especially during the fallout of a long-term global pandemic. Keep in mind, though, that when approached constructively, challenges often bring out our best selves. They make us stronger and more focused, confident and capable. 

Celebrate Minor Victories

You’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” This simply means that victories regularly come in increments, and that small improvements are often worth celebrating. Keep this in mind as you work to achieve your goals (regardless of size) and as we continually strive for post-COVID normalcy. 

Acknowledge & Express Gratitude

Knowing you have a lot to be thankful for isn’t the same as regularly considering, jotting down and expressing your positive thoughts. Being grateful should be an active process. 

By forcing yourself to consider specific things you’re grateful for every day, you’ll train your mind to more naturally think in these terms. Expressing gratitude in overt (i.e., writing a thank-you letter) and creative ways can give this positivity an even bigger boost. 

Surround Yourself with Positivity

The levels of positivity in the company you keep can directly affect your ability to be feel gratitude. Being around positive people and those you love and respect can feel energizing and lead to greater levels of optimism in your life. 


As a way of giving back to others in your community, volunteering – especially during this era of the coronavirus and economic downturn – can make you feel more grateful about your own life. Studies have shown that helping others through volunteering can also increase our personal level of well-being. 

See Your PT Annually for Injury Prevention, Early Intervention

CONTACT: Shannan Atkkin 
Administrator, Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving 
(813) 631-9700, 

Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 

Tampa Wellness: See Your PT Annually for Injury Prevention, Early Intervention 

TAMPA, FL – We all know that visiting your physician for an annual physical is important for maintaining long-term health. Similarly, dental exams twice each year help ensure oral health throughout a lifetime. 

But, did you know that annual physical therapy check-ups provide the third critical (and often overlooked) component of long-term health and preventative care for people of all ages? 

As we observe National Physical Therapy Month each October, Tampa physical therapist Dr. Ginger Hoang Le notes that physical therapy exams focus on one’s ability to move freely and independently while living a safe and active life. 

“The primary focus of a physical therapist is the musculoskeletal system – the bones, joints, muscles and connective tissues that make it possible for you to not just move, but experience life on your own terms,” said Hoang Le, owner of Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving in Tampa, New Port Richey, Wesley Chapel and Plant City. 

“As a physical therapist, my job is to ensure this system is working optimally so limitations like strength, balance, flexibility, pain, and so on don’t stand in the way of a person’s quality of life.” 

Based on the results of a physical therapy “check-up,” a physical therapist is able to provide clients with individualized treatment plans and/or programs meant to help prevent future, movement-limiting problems. 

The goal of these assessments and related interventions is to ensure a high quality of life for those who wish to stay active and independent. As part of this, physical therapists are often able to identify issues that may lead to long-term health problems, such as pain, injury and disease. 

“Movement is medicine, and being able to stay physically active plays a huge role in disease prevention, managing chronic conditions and, in general, taking greater control of your health,” Hoang Le said. “We as physical therapists help people avoid pain, injury and other issues that could lead them toward becoming more sedentary and at greater risk of these types of issues.” 

According to the American Association of Physical Therapy (APTA), physical therapists are highly-skilled, licensed health care professionals who help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility. 

During a preventative check-up, a physical therapist will evaluate such things as movement and injury history, balance, aerobic capacity, functional strength, flexibility, and quality of movement (i.e., gait, reach, bending, etc.). 

In addition, a physical therapist will work with each person to address any personal limitations, weaknesses, pain or other impairments that may be holding them back from reaching lifestyle and movement goals. 

“We recommend that, just as with their personal physicians, people should see a physical therapist for a check-up once each year,” Hoang Le said. Physical therapy check-ups should also be considered: 

  • Whenever one experiences pain, discomfort or strain when doing an activity they enjoy. 
  • Whenever one is considering a new fitness or training program, or starting a new sport. 
  • Following the completion of post-surgery rehab, when trying to resume normal activities. 
  • Or, after any surgery or condition that has led to bed rest. 

For more information about annual physical therapy check-ups, contact the physical therapy team at Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving with questions or to schedule an evaluation. 

About Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving 
We are a team of Doctors of PT/OT and Yoga Teachers who treat pain, reduce falls, improve function. We look for root causes, not just symptoms, from postural body mechanics, old injuries, work, lifestyle factors, nutrition, and social stresses, and address each issue. Additionally, we evaluate for Fitness to Drive and Adaptive Driving for those who have changes in life functions.  Learn more at and 

Debunking Common Myths Related to Falls

Every September during National Falls Prevention Week (Sept. 21-25, 2020), physical therapists join other medical professions across the country in reminding Americans that falls are not just common among older Americans. They’re often debilitating, costly and even deadly. 

They’re also largely preventable, says Tampa physical therapist Dr. Ginger Hoang Le. 

“Falls present a real public health problem among older adults, but so often they’re caused by things that are easy to identify and fix,” said Hoang Le, owner of Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving in Tampa, New Port Richey, Wesley Chapel and Plant City. 

“Balance and strength issues, trip hazards in the home, poor vision, and even certain prescription medications can increase someone’s chance of falling,” Hoang Le added. “These are all things that can and should be addressed as people enter their golden years, before they experience a fall.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in four Americans 65 and older experience a fall each year. Less than half actually report the incident to a doctor or loved one. 

Of those falls, about one in every five result in a serious injury (i.e., a broken bone or head injury), leading to more than 3 million emergency room visits and 800,000 hospitalizations each year. In 2015, these treatments and hospitalizations cost a total of about $50 billion, three-fourths of which was paid for through Medicare and Medicaid. 

“We like to shine a spotlight on this critical issue because it’s one that we can improve with a more preventative mindset,” Hoang Le said. “One of the ways we can do this is by setting the record straight about some common myths older people have about falling.” 

According to Hoang Le, the following beliefs or either incorrect, misleading, or both: 

Falling is just a part of getting older

Wrong. Falling does not have to be a part of aging. As already discussed, the most common causes of falls are easy to identify and fix before a fall happens. 

I won’t fall if I just stay home and limit my activities

First off, more than half of all falls take place in the home. It’s true, and it’s likely because our guards are most often down when we’re home. Home is also where we spend most of our time, including moments when we’re not always at our most alert (i.e., mornings, middle of the night, etc.). 

As for reducing activity, this can actually increase your chances of falling. When you become more sedentary is when you begin to lose muscle mass, flexibility, and range of motion, which can drastically affect your balance. 

Declining strength and flexibility are inevitable

Yes, it’s true the body tends to become weaker and less flexible as we age, but most older adults can recoup and maintain a lot of this through regular exercise and activity. It’s never too late to improve your strength, flexibility and balance. 

Using walking aids make me less independent

Some older adults can benefit from the use of a cane or walker, and there’s no shame in this. When used properly, these devices can improve your mobility and make it possible for you to live a more active life. 

There’s no point in talking about falls unless they happen

If you’re concerned about falling either in the short term or the long, don’t keep it to yourself. By garnering support from loved ones and teaming up with a physical therapist, your fall risk can be properly evaluated and improved. 

Following an initial evaluation, a physical therapist can create you a personalized fall prevention program that may include exercise, a home safety assessment, and perhaps the use of a walking aid. To learn more, contact the team at Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving today. 

At-Home Learning: Don’t Overlook Physical Activity!

As the school year gains momentum during the COVID crisis and more kids and families adjust to various levels of at-home learning, parents and instructors should not overlook what should be a standard facet of all children’s curriculum: physical activity. 

Kids need to be given time to move around, exercise and play, even as they adjust to a new structure and a new way of learning. This is critical not just for a student’s physical health, but to also ensure he or she is better able reach their academic potential. 

How does one affect the other? 

Studies show regular exercise can have a positive effect on young people’s concentration, development, self-esteem, and academic scores. It also helps them get a better night’s sleep and lowers their stress throughout the day. 

And, just like adults, kids need the chance to step away and unwind, especially during a time when they’re trying to adjust to something new and potentially stressful. Getting this time to burn off some energy will help improve their focus when it’s time to get back to lessons and learning. 

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also point out that encouraging regular activity also helps establish lifelong habits that can enrich a child or adolescent’s long-term health and physical development. 

School-aged kids and teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

To help ensure kids can reach this activity goal while also reaping the mental and academic benefits of exercise as they learn at home, we recommend the following to parents and guardians: 

Schedule It

If your school doesn’t include physical activity as part of its daily remote-learning schedule, add it in yourself. Pick at least a couple of times each day when your student will get a chance to step away and be active. Just call it recess! 

Be consistent with times to make this a daily habit. And, if you have an indecisive child, be sure to include play or exercise suggestions that can guide them toward an activity. 

Take the Lead, Make It Fun

If you’re home with your child or children (as a stay-at-home parent or as a remote worker), join them during their recess time. Make it a fun family time by playing outside, going for walks or bike rides, doing exercises in your living room, having a quick dance party, etc. This will do you some good, too. 

Encourage Micro-Breaks

Along with regular “recess” activities, encourage your kids to stand up, stretch and move around for a minute or two every 30 to 60 minutes. Young bodies are resilient, but even kids can start to feel tightness, discomfort and pain when bending over laptops or tablets for long periods of time. 

Prevent Injury When Returning to Activity

After nearly six months of home quarantines, social distancing, gym closures, and cancelled/postponed athletic seasons, it’s been difficult for many to maintain consistent workout routines. 

But, as more people begin settling into “new normals” related to work, parenting, masking and so on, personal health is once again taking a greater role in people’s lives. While this should be applauded, Tampa physical therapist Dr. Ginger Hoang Le says people should be prudent as they strive to rebuild their fitness regimens. 

“If you’ve taken some downtime from regular exercise, you’re not going to be able to pick right back up from where you left off,” said Hoang Le, owner of Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy - Adaptive Driving in Tampa, New Port Richey, Wesley Chapel and Plant City. “Your strength, endurance and flexibility won’t be the same, and you should accept it before you even start a new routine.” 

While various studies conclude different levels of strength or cardio loss when people skip workouts, most general conclusions show that deconditioning (as it’s known) can be significant after just a few days to a couple of weeks of inactivity. 

“It’s a use-it-or-lose-it proposition,” Hoang Le said. “So, if it’s been a while, and you want to avoid injury, take it back down to square one until your body becomes reacclimated and you have a good sense of your new fitness levels.” 

In addition to this sage advice, Hoang Le offers the following tips for easing back into a personal workout regimen: 

1. Start Slow, Build Gradually

Again – and for the sake of both your body and your willpower – don’t try to do too much at once. This can leave you vulnerable to injury while making you feel defeated before your new routine has even begun to take hold. 

Instead, start with briefer workouts with lower levels of intensity. Focus on doing and not your performance, paying particular attention to maintaining good technique and form as your conditioning ramps back up. 

2. Focus on the Big Three

Include resistance training, cardio endurance and flexibility into all of your workouts. Each of these three components are critical in keeping your body strong, balanced and free of injury. 

3. Don’t Skip Rest & Recovery

While you may be incredibly motivated to get back into shape, don’t lose sight of the role rest and recovery play in getting you there safely and successfully. Don’t over train, in other words. 

“We need to give our bodies the chance to rest and repair itself following workouts,” Hoang Le said. “It’s a critical process for long-term health and fitness while helping you avoid injury.”  

4. Be Consistent

As you build endurance, strength and flexibility, also work to build consistency in your workout frequency. This is essential for rebuilding good fitness habits, but it also leads to more considerable results than periodic workouts – despite the intensity of such workouts. 

5. Check In with a Physical Therapist

As experts in optimal movement, function and exercise, physical therapists can play a key role in establishing an individualized, baseline routine to safely get you going on a new exercise regimen. In doing so, a physical therapist can also identify, then address, strength and movement deficiencies that may make it more difficult to begin a new fitness routine. 

“And, when extreme soreness, pain or possible injury threatens to throw you off track, physical therapists are there to quickly identify its cause, then provide solutions for maintaining fitness levels while addressing the discomfort,” Hoang Le said. 

Our Knees: ‘Canaries in the Coal Mine’ of Movement & Exercise Issues

Despite being the largest and perhaps most complicated joints in our bodies, our knees are naturally docile. 

They’re easily influenced by what’s going on above and below them, in other words, not making many decisions on their own. 

That’s why when one experiences knee pain, the true causes of the joint’s wear and tear can almost always be traced up or down the leg – oftentimes in both directions. 

The Kinetic Chain 

Tight muscles, improper footwear, bad balance, the lack of strength in the hips … all of these issues that exist far from the knees can lead to an irregular compression in the knee joint, leading to pain and possible injury. 

The knees may get all the blame, but more often we should consider them as a canary in the coal mine when it comes to movement, strength and/or balance issues. Yes, wear and tear in the knees can also become its own issue over time, but it’s possible to slow this by identifying and addressing the real issues affecting the knees. 

Case in point, a study performed by the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis found that hip strength exercises performed by female runners vastly reduced the incidence of knee pain, or “runner’s knee.” Improved mechanics through increased hip strength was credited for the reduction in pain. 

Another study, this one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, linked the growing incidence of knee pain in the U.S. (65 percent from 1971 to 2004) to the same steady rise in obesity. 

A Holistic Approach 

Studies like these simply support the general approach physical therapists take when treating knee pain as well as most other pain and injury issues: always take into consideration patients’ entire kinetic chain, from the feet up through their bodies. 

That’s why when someone walks through our doors of our clinic and says they’re experiencing knee pain, our physical therapy team doesn’t just look at their knees. We approach the issue globally. 

At our clinic, we evaluate everything from the feet up through the hips, otherwise we’ll likely miss the real cause of the patient’s issues. Such an evaluation should always include an analysis of movement, balance, flexibility and strength. 

Treatments for knee pain may include a mix of remedies that includes the use of proper footwear/orthotics, the establishment of a flexibility program, strength and balance exercise regimens, and perhaps even a plan to shed some excess body weight. 

Get Physical Therapy 

If you regularly experience knee pain while you’re going about life and doing the things you most enjoy, it’s always a good rule of thumb to get yourself evaluated by a physical therapist. Call us today to schedule an appointment. 

If your knee’s chirping, so to speak, that’s usually a good indication that something elsewhere in your body needs some attention. 

DIY Safety: Treat Home Improvement Projects Like a Workout

The past several weeks has proven that most people are not inclined to sit idle at home as the world protects itself from the coronavirus. On the contrary, as people spend more time social distancing, DIY home improvement projects have surged. 

Related box stores have reported increased profits, and some industry surveys (i.e., show that two in three homeowners have taken advantage of COVID lockdowns to complete more projects in and around their homes. 

So, as people put more effort toward building, fixing, improving and upgrading aspects of their homes, lawns and gardens, now is an ideal time to remind people that safety should never take a back seat to achieving goals. 

While remaining driven and active during the pandemic, is important, any time you increase your activity levels and put stress on your body, it’s important to do so safely, smartly, and incrementally. Allowing the body plenty of time to rest and heal is also critical. 

In other words, approach all home projects like a workout – as something that requires preparation, strength and endurance, with a nod toward injury prevention. 

In this spirit, we’d like to offer a few tips for being safe during DIY home projects: 

Always Warm Up 

Many home improvement projects require repeated and prolonged lifting, bending, squatting, kneeling, reaching, and twisting. It’s physical activity, in other words, so it’s important to prepare your body through a series of dynamic warmup exercises to get the blood flowing. Also, start with smaller projects before moving on to the bigger stuff. 

Stay Hydrated 

Drink plenty of water before you even start the job, then continue to hydrate throughout the task. And, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, especially in the middle of a hot summer day. 

Take Breaks 

Even if you get “in the zone,” make it a point to take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, walk around and hydrate. If you find yourself bent or hunched over a lot during the project, for example, take time to stand and do some back bends to equalize pressure in the spine. 

Practice Proper Lifting 

When lifting heavy objects, always bend with the knees and lift with your legs, keeping your back upright, and the bulk of the weight close to your body. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help if the item’s too heavy or awkward. 

Use the Buddy System 

Along with help lifting, be sure to recruit some help whenever your project requires the use of sharp objects, power tools, ladders, etc. Don’t risk accidents. A good partner can help slow you down (in a good way) and keep you mindful of personal safety. 

Make Time for R&R 

This stands for “rest and recovery,” a time when your body can reenergize and your muscles regenerate. If it’s a multi-day project, take an off-day or two to keep your body fresh and to prevent injury. 

Listen to Your Body 

If you experience pain, discomfort, movement limitations or overwhelming fatigue, take a break, change tasks, or end the project altogether. If you continue to feel pain or discomfort in the muscles, joints or spine, see a physical therapist. 

Physical therapists exist to help people overcome such limitations so they can reach their personal goals, even when that goal is completing a home project. After an initial assessment, PTs can help create an individualized treatment plan to get back on track. 

Will Running Damage Your Knees? Studies Say No.

Is running bad for your knees? 

According to Tampa physical therapist Dr. Ginger Hoang Le, DPT, this is a common question among both avid runners and those who may start running for exercise or to participate in that first 5K. 

For most people, though, the answer is a resounding no. 

“This question really highlights a common misconception about running – that it’s an activity that’s good for the heart but bad for the knees,” said Dr. Hoang Le, owner of Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy in Tampa, New Port Richey, Wesley Chapel and Plant City. “But, the truth is there’s really little evidence that running, when done properly, actually does damage or increases a person’s risk of developing arthritis in their knees.” 

In fact, research has shown the very opposite, Dr. Hoang Le says. 

According to an analysis of multiple studies, for example – findings that were published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy in 2017 – 10.2 percent of non-runners develop osteoarthritis in knees or hips, while these ailments develop in just 3.5 percent of recreational runners. 

Further research has revealed that when it comes to the risk of developing osteoarthritis, running takes a back seat to other, more worrisome factors like knee injury history, genetics, occupational exposure to risky movements, age and obesity. 

This and other research, says Dr. Hoang Le, simply support the much broader viewpoint that living a more sedentary lifestyle puts one at a much higher risk of chronic pain and conditions, like osteoarthritis, than living a more active life. 

“In physical therapy, we often use the phrase, ‘movement is medicine,’” Dr. Hoang Le said. “Well, in this case, it’s mostly true. Unless someone has other underlying conditions that make running difficult or which cause more wear and tear on the muscles and joints – such as bad form or overtraining – you can rest assured that recreational running is safe on the knees and joints.” 

That’s certainly not to say, Dr. Hoang Le says, that runners are immune to pain and injury. Issues like runner’s knee, shin splints, Achilles and foot pain, and so on are experienced by thousands of runners every year. 

These conditions, however, are often due to issues such like bad running mechanics, muscle imbalances, improper footwear, overexertion, or not enough rest and recovery between workouts. 

As a physical therapist, Dr. Hoang Le regularly works with runners of all ages and levels to identify these underlying causes of pain and injury. Through professional running and movement assessments, as well as a physical examination of affected areas, Dr. Hoang Le and her team can pinpoint, then address, the true sources of the pain. 

The Ginger Health Occupational Physical Therapy team can then ensure the safety and longevity of runners through one or a combination of strategies, like strength and flexibility exercises, the establishment of better running mechanics, new running shoes/insoles, or the development of a more individualized exercise regimen. 

Create Healthy Habits That Help You Get Through the Pandemic

Many of our daily routines have been upended by COVID-19 and the attempts we’ve all made to abide by phrases that weren’t so familiar at the start of 2020: social distancing, sheltering-in-place, and flattening the curve. 

And, as we “self-isolate” at home, we’ve often been forced to greatly alter old routines related to nearly all aspects of our lives: work, childcare, education, health and exercise. 

Such drastic changes in routine can be daunting until new personal habits have been created and adopted. This takes time and a concerted effort, however. 

Working from home, schooling children, maintaining a household, and finding some quality ‘me’ time for exercise and relaxation … it all adds up and can lead to a lot of anxiety. This is a new normal for a lot of people, and probably the worst thing they can do is expect to get it right all at once. 

Physical therapists regularly work to help people create new and/or improved habits related to movement, exercise, injury prevention, pain management and rehabilitation. 

Tapping into this experience, we offer the following tips for people looking to create new habits and routines in order to better adapt to their “new normals.”  

Start Small 

Permanent change occurs via a series of small achievements. So, don’t expect, or even try, to accomplish everything at once. 

Choose an aspect of your life – say, establishing a home workout routine – and set a single, realistic goal. Don’t shoot for the stars, but instead set a small goal you know you can achieve – say, holding a 30-second plank twice throughout the day. 

Build on Your Accomplishments 

Once you start to consistently achieve your initial goal, vow to slowly build on that success. Hold each plank for 1 percent longer each time, for example, or add a second, third and eventually fourth exercise to your routine. Again, do so in steps – not all at once. 

Measure & Track Success 

Write down your long- and short-term goals, then track your progress. Write them in a journal or simply keep a log on your smartphone. Include your accomplishments and ways you plan to build on this success. 

Anticipate Challenges 

We can’t foresee all hiccups that may crop up as you look to establish new routines. So, expect challenges and small failures at times. But, resolve to keep pushing. Build and learn from failures, and resolve to never allow a failure (i.e., missed exercises) to happen more than once. 

Be Patient 

It’s different for everyone, but on average it takes about two months of consistent effort for a new habit to fully take hold. Whether it’s keeping up with your home workout routine or simply looking to improve at-home work productivity, stick with it and be patient. And, once the routine begins to feel “normal,” move onto the next thing. 

In addition, physical therapists often suggest setting SMART goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. 

This applies to achieving health and fitness goals, and it can help create new habits and routines in other aspects of your day. It takes commitment, but the payoff can be an improved, more healthful and stress-free life. 

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