Recognizing Women’s Health & Fitness Day

Post written by APTA

Physical therapists who specialize in women’s health can help women navigate a host of health and fitness issues that can be difficult to discuss, such as incontinence or pelvic pain.

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In reaching out to women of all ages, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has used social media in major ways to help get the message out. In August we featured a segment on pregnancy and running on our Internet-based radio program, “Move Forward Radio.” The show featured physical therapists discussing research on the effects of pregnancy on a woman’s running form. A July episode featured physical therapists discussing stress-induced urinary incontinence, a condition that might affect as many as 1 in 3 women but is preventable with pelvic floor exercises.

Last year, APTA partnered with its Section on Women’s Health in the #overshare initiative to build awareness of women’s health issues that can be prevented and treated by a physical therapist. The initiative featured a 1-hour program, “Women’s Health Across the Lifespan,” on Move Forward Radio and a Twitter party. An e-book by the same name was also developed to show many health conditions common to women that physical therapists treat. These include pelvic pain and overactive pelvic floor muscle dysfunction; bowel dysfunction and constipation; interstitial cystitis; incontinence and low libido, and pregnancy and postpartum, including how to stay fit during pregnancy.

YouTube videos on various aspects of women’s health and fitness have also been part of our outreach. Here are a few examples:

Our outreach efforts consistently directed women to APTA’s consumer website, www.MoveForwardPT.com, where they can use our online database, “Find a PT,” to locate physical therapists who specialize in women’s health. The website also features symptoms and conditions guides on various health issues affecting women. Some examples are:

Also in 2012, APTA launched a campaign to Baby Boomers about the role physical therapists play in helping people aged 50 and older remain active, fit, and mobile as they age. Studies show that many Boomers are actually overweight or obese, placing them at greater risk for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. 

To support this initiative, we developed a “Fit After 50” page on www.MoveForwardPT.com. Women members are featured on video talking about the challenges of staying fit after 50. We held our “Fit After 50 Member Challenge” this year where members and the public could vote for the physical therapist who best “walked the walk” by staying fit as they age and encouraging their patients and members of their communities to do the same. Our winner is Patsy Shropshire, PT, who runs a fitness and wellness program for women in Dallas, Texas, many of whom are cancer survivors.

Physical therapists, particularly those who specialize in women’s health, are interested in opening a dialogue about women’s health and letting women know that physical therapists are their partners in health throughout their entire lives. What is your organization doing to reach out to women about how your members can improve women’s health and fitness?

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