Question:My doctor told me after I got my hip replacement to "stay active." This was her prescription for keeping me healthy and prevent further problems. Just how much activity is needed that won't be too much for my new hip? I know the joint replacement won't last forever, so I don't want to overdo it.
Answer:Many experts around the world agree now that regular physical activity and exercise is a must for good general health. This is especially important for specific conditions such as diabetes, colon and breast cancer, hypertension, depression, and osteoporosis.
The current recommendations are for 30 minutes of moderately to intensely vigorous activity every day. If you cannot meet this goal every day, then try for at least five days a week. Moderate to intense level of activity may not be achieved in the same way by everyone. What's intense for you may not be intense for someone else. This is true even if you are the same age and in the same general condition.
There are two helpful tools used to gauge activity level. The first is the rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Patients use a scale from zero to 10 to rate their level of activity. Zero is no exertion or easy, while 10 is intense or very hard. The numbers between zero and 10 gradually increase in difficulty performing the activity or exercise.
Another method of measuring your intensity or level of effort uses metabolic equivalents (METS). One MET is equal to the energy used while sitting quietly. This is the resting metabolic rate. As the activity level increases, the MET goes up. In order to meet the moderate to intense level required for good health, a MET level of two or higher is needed.
You may want to ask your physician for more specific guidelines. She can guide you in how to apply either (or both) of these methods in your daily exercise routine and activities. Be sure and ask if there are any further restrictions in activity for the particular implant that you have.Robert Wagenmakers, MD, et al. Predictive Value of the Western Ontarios and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index for the Amount of Physical Activity After Total Hip Arthroplasty. In Physical Therapy. February 2008. Vol. 88. No. 2. Pp. 211-218.
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