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HonorHealth: Staying active is good for your health, but when is it too much of a good thing?

Research shows that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity every week is great for your mind and body, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 3.5 million sports-related injuries each year in the United States. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)

HonorHealth medical experts offer top tips for better health in the New Year

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For a lot of Americans, flipping the calendar to 2024 will include a goal of getting more exercise … sound familiar?

Before you lace up those tennies and start pounding the pavement, let’s talk about some medical-based suggestions to keep you active, healthy and on the road to well-being.

Research shows that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity every week is great for your mind and body, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 3.5 million sports-related injuries each year in the United States, and those are just the ones that require some form of medical attention.

Injuries can happen to anyone, whether you’re a weekend warrior training for a 5K, a teen playing youth sports, a retiree enjoying a round of golf or the increasingly popular game of pickleball.

“We see patients of all ages,” says Frank Moussa, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at HonorHealth Orthopedics who specializes in sports injuries. “Sports injuries aren’t always athletic in nature because injuries from either intense sports or just maintaining an active life are very similar.”

Be ready to be active:

“Professional athletes in every sport have training camps to get themselves ready to compete,” says Victoria Eby, DO, an independent member of the HonorHealth medical staff and sports medicine physician offering non-operative orthopedic care to athletes of all types. “Weekend warriors should do the same.”

“You need to start slow, build up your stamina and help your body get ready for whichever sport you are about to start playing,” Dr. Eby points out. “Perform dynamic stretches after you warm up, work up to your goal and make sure that you stretch after you work out to help your muscles recover. Your stretching routine should be limited to less than 30 seconds for each muscle group to avoid stretching beyond your body’s natural limits, which can cause more harm than good.”

“Another thing to consider is varying your workout routine,” adds Dr. Moussa. “Our bodies like to be stressed in different ways, and by changing things up, your workouts will be more enjoyable, productive and engaging. In the end, you’ll have better physical conditioning and be less prone to repetitive overuse injuries.”

photo of honorhealth doctors
Dr. Victoria Eby
Avoiding injury:

Not all injuries can be avoided, but taking care of yourself before, during and after you’re active will help.

Eating a nutritious diet and staying hydrated are two things that can really help your body reduce the chances of getting hurt.

“The best advice I can give is to maintain a general level of fitness and maintain a healthy diet,” says Dr. Moussa.

“Exercise and proper nutrition can help you achieve a healthy weight, which will put less stress on your body when you are being active and can help you avoid an injury in the first place.”

Living in Arizona, we have the opportunity to be active and outdoors year-round, but wherever you choose to work out, keep in mind that staying hydrated is critical.

“I always encourage my patients to drink lots of fluids, starting with 16-20 ounces of water an hour or two before physical activity, four to six ounces of water every 15 minutes during activity and to continue drinking water after you are done working out,” says Dr. Eby.

“If you are working out for long periods at a time or working outside in the heat, you should also think about adding in an electrolyte drink to help avoid an electrolyte imbalance and to help avoid a heat-related issue.”

Dr. Frank Moussa
The next step:

“I always tell people to look at the patterns,” advises Dr. Moussa. “If your symptoms continue to get worse and you are hurting more and more despite giving it a rest, then it’s time to see a doctor.”

The HonorHealth Orthopedic team is a great resource to provide in-depth, coordinated care with specialists that can help you on your road to recovery so you can get back in the game.

“I’m excited to be a part of HonorHealth Orthopedics, which offers patients a team of orthopedic specialists who take an integrated approach to patient care,” says Dr. Moussa.

An integrated approach to orthopedic care means that your doctor can refer you to another provider within the HonorHealth Orthopedics program for a seamless patient experience.

“This approach helps us provide excellent care while also offering our patients convenience,” adds Dr. Moussa. “I find that many patients delay talking with their doctors about their aches and pains to see if they will get better on their own and because they don’t want to have surgery. We always start with a complete analysis and nonsurgical treatment options. I find that 90% of the time, we can get our patients better without operating through physical therapy, injection therapy, medications and lifestyle modifications.”

If surgery is ultimately needed, HonorHealth’s orthopedic physicians have access to the latest medical and surgical technologies, which means most surgical patients experience shorter hospital stays, better results and faster recovery times to get back to doing what they love.

The end game:

“I know what it’s like when you want to be active, but your body is telling you to take it easy or even take a break,” says Dr. Eby. “Knowing that our team can help our patients get back to living a healthy lifestyle and staying active, that’s why I got into this and it’s what keeps me going every day.”

“After 20 years of doing this, the best part of the job is when someone comes to me and says thank you, my pain is better and I’m able to do what I wasn’t able to do before,” adds Dr. Moussa. “The fact that they’re able to return to what they love and think you played a part in it, that makes my day.”

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