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Exercise Right Week: Jim and Nat

June 1, 2020 by emily0NDISNDIS provider

In our sixth and final installment of #ExerciseRightWeek, we’re featuring Jim and our Allied Health Manager and Exercise Physiologist, Nat.

Jim has been with Therapy Care for nearly three years and is featured in the below video where he opens up about living with multiple sclerosis, his life before Therapy Care and how he had progressed up until that point.

In the video, Jim said, “Since joining Therapy Care, my health and mobility have dramatically improved. This has really helped me turn a corner and my outlook on life hasn’t been this good in a very long time.”

Since filming, Jim has made even more progress!

Shortly after the video was filmed, Jim made the brave move to start exercising outside of the home. He was on a mission to lose fat and enter a healthy weight range. Nat and the allied health team at Therapy Care really encouraged Jim’s weight loss goal; but also encouraged Jim to incorporate strength training into his exercise program in order to maintain muscle mass.

Nat talked Jim through the importance of maintaining muscle when going through a period of fat loss. Nat explained that a higher muscle mass means you burn fat easier so it helps with your weight loss goal but more importantly, how it is a key component in an exercise program prescribed to battle the degeneration of muscle in Multiple Sclerosis.

Going from not being able to walk, to walking everyday, it was clear that Jim had made significant progress in his ability to become more mobile and function everyday. Nat and the team were blown away by Jim’s determination to smash his mobility goals. While this achievement wasn’t overlooked, it was clear to Nat that in order to continue and even maintain the progress Jim had made, he needed to build muscle. However, he was reluctant to include strength training into his weekly routine.

“He had outgrown his home exercise program and had achieved his primary goal of mobilising better and getting into the routine of regular exercise. So it was time to really target the exercise to MS and incorporating a more intensive strength program was crucial,” says Nat.

To track his physical progress, Jim was and continues to have DEXA scans every six months, which provide an in depth analysis of Jim’s body composition. In the six months since starting exercising, Jim lost three kilos! While he was happy with achieving this goal, the DEXA scan showed almost 85% of his weight loss was muscle.

Seeing the results of the DEXA scan was the wake up call Jim needed to commit to a regular strength routine. Straight away, Jim and the allied health team commenced Jim’s personalised strength and resistance training program in the gym.

The program focussed on building muscle strength and bone density. Jim started exercising twice a week in the gym as well as attending Therapy Care’s multidisciplinary Rehab Group. Rehab group participants are taken through a two hour circuit of cardiovascular, balance, stretching and most importantly for Jim, strength exercises.

Nat says, “Jim’s biggest regret is not starting strength and resistance training earlier.”

“He loves the challenge and soon became a three day a week gym-goer and continued all throughout the Christmas break; he never missed a session.”

In April, Jim had another DEXA scan; the first since introducing strength and resistance training.

He was really eager to see how his new routine had made a difference to his body composition. Jim’s results showed he had:

? Improved walking speed by 19%
? 48% improvement in balance
? 68% improvement in leg strength
? Reduction in falls risk from high to medium risk
? 4% improvement in walking endurance since his last test but 20% improvement since he started
? 17% (R) and 22% (L) improvement in hand grip strength which is an indicator for whole body muscle strength
? 1.3g weight loss since October with a 2kg increase in muscle mass!!!!
? Continued improvement in bone density
? Reduction in body fat

Jim’s hard work had more than paid off! He was not merely maintaining muscle mass while losing fat; he was increasing it! Despite having MS, Jim was able to increase his muscle mass by two kilos in six months by following a specifically targeted strength training program.

Nat says, “The COVID period has been hard on Jim, but with some home weights we have maintained as much support for his exercise as possible. He is definitely missing the big machines and the social aspect of going to the gym — as much as he hates to admit it!”

“The psychological impact is just as important as the physical. Jim’s overall quality of life has improved significantly. Regular exercise has enabled Jim to get out of the house three times a week and integrate into our community.

“He is a familiar, friendly face who has become an integral member of the Therapy Care community,” says Nat.

We are all so very proud of Jim and his commitment to his health. He is truly inspiring to us all.


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