July 22, 2008

Adaptations Help to Meet Challenges

By Mary Ann Ford

BLOOMINGTON - Physical disabilities often present an exercise challenge, but an adapted exercise program still can bring results.

"We always start and maximize the function they have," said Katrina Hird, a physical therapist with BroMenn Regional Medical Center. "A huge component is looking at what is the task they want to do."

Healthy eating also plays a role, said Kim McClintic, a registered dietitian with the Center for Healthy Lifestyles at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, and keeping a food diary can help control emotional eating.

Hird said a key to exercise for Domonica Hilt and others suffering from multiple sclerosis is keeping cool during exercise. Heat can exacerbate flare-ups.

"Have the opportunity to cool off," she said. "Have cool rags and ice water available. Start in a place that's cooler or where there is air conditioning. Have a bike with a fan."

Another key for Hilt and others with limited mobility is gradually building up their core strength, especially trunk stability, Hird said.

Sitting unassisted on the side of the bed to get dressed, for instance, is a step up from sitting in a chair with back support. The next step would be standing up to button a shirt.

Other daily tasks also help build muscle strength. "Putting away groceries works the arms and the trunk," Hird said.

Exercise is no different.

"Start small and work on progressing up," she said. "Lie flat to do exercise, then work up to lying on your side and lifting your leg. Use gravity to your advantage."

Another key is eliminating unnecessary tasks, she said. Have someone set out your clothes in the morning so you can save your energy for getting dressed.

Hilt also suggests making a daily schedule and splitting up activities so tasks can be accomplished.

Meanwhile, a food diary can help keep tabs on what McClintic refers to as "mindless eating."

"You don't realize how much you nibble or graze throughout the day," she said.

A food diary helps track emotional eating episodes. She suggests writing down what you eat, the time of day, the mood you're in when you eat and who is around when you're eating.

To combat emotional eating, do something with your hands when you feel the urge to munch, she said.

"Clean out a drawer, fold laundry, do your nails or brush your teeth," McClintic said. "Get sidetracked, and sometimes the urge will go away or be less."

Don't drink calories unless it's skim or lowfat milk, 100 percent juice or unsweetened tea. Water is the best choice.

"Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible," she said.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are not only easy, but because they are frozen at the moment they are picked, they still have their majority of vitamins and minerals, she said. Another easy option is canned fruits and vegetables as long as the fruit is in its own juice and the vegetables are low sodium if you need to watch salt content.

But eating healthy shouldn't allow you to overeat - portion sizes still are key.

McClintic suggested looking at labels to determine serving sizes.

"If a boxed dinner says three servings per box, the box isn't just for you," she said.

--------------------------------------------------------------- Diet/exercise help

If you need help with your diet or exercise plan, Twin City registered dietician Kim McClintic recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site: www.mypyramid.gov.

The site offers personalized eating plans and helps provide a balance between your food intake and your physical activity. You will find such things as a menu planner, an in-depth assessment of your diet and physical activity, dietary guidelines and tips and resources.

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