Today, Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleCastle HillRandwickPymble, Kingsgrove, Neutral Bay, Coburg – Melbourne, and Barrie, Ontario – Canada  discuss the negative impacts that hospitals can have on our health and how we can prevent being there in the first place.

Hospitals are a necessary evil.

When we become seriously unwell, they are our first port of call. But what if I told you there are evidence-based ways of staying well and out of hospital?

Don’t get me wrong, having worked for years in hospitals as a nurse, I am a huge advocate for getting medical help when it is necessary. This is because by this point it is too late for preventative measures and delaying treatment leads to poorer outcomes.

What is the problem with hospitalisation?

The problem with our healthcare system lies with its focus on treatment over prevention. This means that our system is reactive when it comes to illness management. In fact, admissions for preventable chronic diseases account for 37% of hospitalisations, and admissions for ‘ineffective management’ of these conditions is estimated to cost the government $320 million a year (Grattan Institute, 2016). With less than 2% of the health budget in Australia being spent on illness prevention, ask yourself – are these statistics really surprising?

How will being in hospital affect me?

Being in hospital is not good for us. A hospital stay not only puts us at risk of medical-related errors, adverse reactions, and complications, but prolonged immobility associated with bedrest leads to significant reductions in muscle mass, bone mineral density and adversely affects other body systems. In fact, being in bed for one week can cause up to a 40% reduction in muscle strength, particularly in the antigravity muscles, i.e. the quads, back and calf muscles (Bloomfield et al., 1997; Topp et al., 2002). This is why prevention, i.e. having a higher baseline of fitness, strength and better metabolic health, gives us the best chance to rebound quicker following discharge.

“In fact, being in bed for one week can cause up to a 40% reduction in muscle strength.”

What can I do to stay out of hospital?

Physical inactivity is the leading cause of disease and disability. According to the World Health Organisation, it is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, increasing the risk of death by 20-30% when compared to people who are physically active.

“Exercising regularly will not only reduce your risk of developing preventable lifestyle diseases which lead to hospitalisation but will reduce your length of stay and improve outcomes.”

Having higher cardiovascular fitness means our body systems are better able to deal with aerobic stress. As a result, we have a higher threshold for dealing with stress before systems such as our cardiovascular and respiratory system shut down. Building strength and muscle mass is key to our ability to perform functional activities, meaning we are more independent when we return home following an admission. Additionally, better metabolic health and immune function help us fight illnesses more quickly and effectively.

How much should I exercise to stay out of hospital?

The Australian Guidelines recommend that every Australian accumulates 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity PLUS two sessions of resistance training per week. Resistance training involves challenging our muscles, bones, and joints against external load, for example machine or free weights in a gym.

The type of exercise you choose will depend on your likes, dislikes, goals, your current level of function and there may be considerations if you are diagnosed with chronic disease. Exercise Physiologists are university qualified health professionals who are experienced in prescribing exercise for people across the lifespan, including using exercise to help manage chronic disease.

Is exercise safe if I have a chronic disease?

For most people, exercise is an incredibly safe and effective tool for managing a variety of chronic conditions. If you’re unsure, ask your treating GP or specialist, they may also refer you to an Exercise Physiologist for expert advice.

At Longevity Exercise Physiology, we specialise in helping you to help yourself. 

Mindful of the needs of every client who walks through the door, we see exercise as powerful and life changing. Over the years we have helped people live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Invest in exercise now and see dividends for years to come!

Call Longevity Exercise Physiology and Personal Training on 1300 964 002 to get started today!

Written by Annie Crimmins

Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Registered Nurse

 

References

Bloomfield, S. A. (1997). Changes in musculoskeletal structure and function with prolonged bed rest. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 29(2), 197-206.

Swerissen, H., & Duckett, S. (2016). Chronic failure in primary care. Grattan Institute.

Topp, R., Ditmyer, M., King, K., Doherty, K., & Hornyak III, J. (2002). The effect of bed rest and potential of prehabilitation on patients in the intensive care unit. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 13(2), 263-276.

World Health Organisation (WHO). (2016). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity#:~:text=Physical%20inactivity%20is%20one%20of,people%20who%20are%20sufficiently%20active. Accessed 07/02/2023.