Can Physical Therapy Help Me Lose Weight? 

Can physical therapy help me lose weight?

Well, the short answer to this question is there is no straightforward answer – it’s more complex than a simple yes or no. But the answer may surprise you, nevertheless.

So, if you’re currently overweight and desperate to lose weight but suffering from joint pain, muscle weakness, reduced mobility, or a lack of balance and coordination makes exercise difficult: please, read on. 

Visiting a physical therapist is the obvious thing to do when you’re injured or suffering from chronic pain – and this is the primary purpose of physical therapy. We can quickly find the root cause of pain, even if nothing has helped before.

We can also get you back on the track or field as soon as humanly possible after orthopedic surgery or following an injury. But there are many other complementary benefits to physical therapy. A well-functioning, healthy body has many life-improving benefits – including preventing age-related degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. 

According to Healthline, “About 43 percent trusted Source of adults with depression are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And they say adults who’ve been diagnosed with depression are more likely rested Source to be overweight than those who haven’t.”

When you move better, you feel better, so it can also be beneficial for mental health. However, one of the other benefits that most people don’t immediately associate with physical therapy is weight loss. But let’s not get carried away.

Physical Therapy Isn’t A Drastic Weight-loss Solution

Physical Therapy and weight loss

Going to physical therapy isn’t like drinking one of the “miracle weight loss shakes” or “skinny teas” you see on social media. These scams, by the way, are absolute rubbish. They don’t work – and can be dangerous.

So, avoid them like the plague. There is only one route to long-term weight loss, and that is sensible and sustainable lifestyle changes that allow you to continue enjoying life. At the same time, you work towards your weight loss goals. You won’t walk out of your first physical therapy session 5lbs lighter. Sorry. 

Weight loss isn’t easy. It’s hard – especially if you’ve got a lot of weight to lose. It often goes hand in hand with fatigue, breathlessness, and joint pain. But the excess weight has many more severe adverse effects too. Such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and premature death, to name but a few.

They’re some convincing reasons to lose weight, right?

So, how does physical therapy help you lose weight?

Even though you’ll find lots of conflicting information about weight loss on the internet, the only proven way to lose weight is a simple equation of calories in v calories out. But that doesn’t mean that what you eat doesn’t matter. Even though it’s been done, we wouldn’t recommend a diet of twinkies as a long-term weight-loss strategy.

A healthy body, bones, and ease of movement – long into your golden years, requires a constant supply of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. To prevent inflammation and heal, you need the amino acids in protein to build muscle and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in fats.

So, whatever food choices you choose to make, the most important thing to remember is to “eat the rainbow” and eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. So, once you have the quality of the food, you’re eating sorted. You need to look at the quantity of food you’re eating and make sure that you’re not taking in more than you need because that’s when the body will store the excess as fat.

The calorie equation is where physical therapy comes in – and this is how it can help you lose weight. Suppose you’re currently injured, in chronic pain, or suffering from reduced mobility. In that case, you’re probably not moving (or burning) as much as you used to. Physical Therapy can help you overcome your injury, heal chronic pain, and increase your mobility. So you can get out there and start burning calories. It’s not a magic bullet. Nothing is. But slow and steady wins the race

What The Department Of Health Has To Say

Physical Therapy and weight loss

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) supports the case for getting more physically active for a multitude of health benefits, not just weight loss:

“Being physically active is one of the most important actions that people of all ages can take to improve their health. The evidence reviewed for this second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is clear—physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better and reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases.

Health benefits start immediately after exercising, and even short episodes of physical activity are beneficial. Even better, research shows that just about everyone gains benefits: men and women of all races and ethnicities, young children to older adults, women who are pregnant or postpartum (first year after delivery), people living with a chronic condition or a disability, and people who want to reduce their risk of chronic disease.”

They suggest American “adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.”

Are you hitting those targets? 

If not, because you’re not physically able to, we recommend you consult with a physical therapist to get you back on track and en route to hitting the healthy adult targets. Not only will you lose weight, but you’ll protect your long-term physical and mental health too. 

Still not convinced?

We understand how hard it is to get active and lose weight when you’re overweight and suffering from joint pain and reduced mobility.

Here are some of the weight-loss specific benefits of Physical Therapy.

How Physical Therapy Can Help With Weight Loss 

Weight loss and physical therapy

Increase “calories out”

Every physical therapy session you attend is an opportunity to burn extra calories as your physical therapist works with you to put you through a sequence of exercises. These therapeutic exercises are tailormade to reduce pain, increase mobility and increase strength.

If you don’t feel able to exercise independently, a physical therapy session is an excellent way to get active. 

Increase Strength

When you attend your first evaluation appointment, your Physical Therapist will identify the areas of muscle weakness preventing you from moving and exercising. Once identified, we teach you a range of exercises – and work through them with you in the session – to build muscle and strength in these vulnerable areas. Gradually, over time, you will gain strength and build strong, healthy muscles. It’s worth noting that muscle burns more calories than fat, so it’s also easier to lose weight when you have more muscle. 

Reduce chronic pain

It’s tempting not to move much at all when you’re in pain. But movement can help improve your pain levels, and inactivity can make them worse. Your physical therapist will teach you how to move with the least amount of pain possible, so you can begin moving a little more (and burning a little more) every day. 

Improve aerobic capacity and cardiovascular fitness

We’ve all been there: getting to a top of a hill and feeling entirely out of breath. But if you’re carrying a lot of weight, this can happen after only short distances and minimal exertion. Still, one that progressively improves your aerobic capacity, so you get fitter and fitter. Your Physical Therapist will create an individualized program for you that considers your current fitness level. The fitter you get, the more you’ll be able to move – and the more excess weight you’ll burn – and all your health markers improve in tandem. 

At Intecore Physical Therapy, we help people stay active, fit, and free from painkillers, even if they’ve had pain for years. So, if you’re frustrated with your lack of progress and because of your physical limitations, you’re not moving towards your weight loss goals as fast as you would like, we can help.

We also understand that after a long period of inactivity, the idea of movement and exercise – especially if you’re in pain and unable to move well – can be daunting. That’s why we offer all new patients a unique opportunity to chat to a Physical Therapist first. You can do this by telephone, on one of our free Telephone consultations.

Or, if you’d prefer, come and see our setup and decide whether our family-friendly clinic feels good and is right for your weight loss journey.

This option is a free 30-minute no-obligation Discovery Visit for you to come and look around and learn how our physical therapists can help you achieve your goals. 

Andrew Vertson