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Learning how to love sport with Medical Doctor Codruța Cioponea

Please tell us a few words about yourself and your professional history (and more).

As a child, I was passionate about sports and exercise. I started jogging in the 4th grade more out of need than pleasure because I was a fat little girl. I became more and more passionate about movement, its beneficial effects and the wonderful transformations that sport has brought me.

Consequently, I decided to become a sports doctor. After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine I started a Sports Medicine residency, but because this specialty was not exactly what I wanted and because I realized that my calling was Sports Recovery, I focused on this field. I changed the residency and became a doctor specializing in Medical Physics and Medical Rehabilitation.

Because I am a superachiever and I am interested in professional excellence (and because in Medicine to become good it is important to learn from the best) I applied and I was accepted for a training internship at the Physical Medicine clinic and of Sports Injury Recovery, Liege coordinated by Prof. Kaux. This department has been designated by the International Olympic Committee as the Medical Department for the Prevention of Sports Injuries in Performance Athletes.

It has also been recognized as the Department of Excellence in Sports Injury Prevention for high-performance athletes due to the numerous applicable scientific contributions made in the world of sports.

It is also the only medical department in the world accredited by all three bodies dealing with performance athletes: FIFA, the International Federation of Sports Medicine and the International Olympic Committee.

How was the beginning of the Healthy & Fit Lifestyle group coaching project?

I launched the group project Healthy & Fit Lifestyle in a pandemic because I felt the need to come to the aid of women. We created a Facebook group whose purpose is to inspire and help the community of the ladies in that group to lead a healthier and fitter life, despite the period of major crisis we were going through.

I know very well that healthy habits and active living help us to maintain our balance and mental health.

It was a continuation of my work as a Healthy & Fit Lifestyle coach, a project meant to bring a profound impact and a lasting transformation in the lives of those who go through it.

Until then, I had only worked one-on-one, so switching to group coaching was a challenge for me, but it brought me a lot of satisfaction.

Who are you talking to? I am sure that we, the young people pinned to office chairs, also need movement.

Through the prism of the profession of Medical Rehabilitation Doctor, I address patients, or more precisely those who have muscle pain, joint ligaments and who want to solve them.

I am addressing those people who want more than just to take a pill for a temporary relief of pain. To those who want a good quality of life and do not want to endure the pain, hoping that it will simply pass.

Through the treatment I give, I treat the pain and prevent the appearance of more disabling and more serious diseases.

My patients are people who don’t think that muscle or joint pain “goes away on its own.” This approach is very wrong and the neglect of joint pain leads to such a great degradation of the joint that then the only solution is surgery.

The people who come to me are people aware of the importance of their health.

There are people who want to be and feel good and there are people interested in living a long and healthy life.

I also treat many athletes for specific sports muscle and traumatic conditions.

From the point of view of the Healthy & Fit Lifestyle program, I addressed those ladies who feel stuck and who have not yet found solutions that suit them to have a fit body and a healthy life.

What type of movement do you propose for “non-osteoarticular diseases”? That is, for convinced sedentary people.

Movement means life. Recently I wrote a book about the importance of movement during pregnancy in which we explain that movement prevents the appearance of diseases of the pregnant woman such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, and that it has great effects on the fetus.

Studies demonstrating the vital importance of exercise in countless areas are becoming more numerous; for example, physical activity should be prescribed as a form of treatment for moderate depression before antidepressants.

Our body was not made to sit in an office chair. The sedentary state does not help us; in fact it is very harmful to us.

My sincere advice for those who cannot find the motivation to exercise is to find a personal development coach to help, motivate and inspire them to live a healthier and more active life.

For those who have musculoskeletal problems, pain, etc. but who do not find the time to come to a consultation, we have launched an online Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy service that keeps the benefits of Physical Therapy (medical gymnastics) from the office and in addition brings a great added value, that of not wasting time on the road, and of being able to be accessed from anywhere.

Online Rehab is a program that I am very excited about, it is a smart and very accessible service that changes the lives of my patients for the better.

How do you persuade people who refuse to move?

I don’t convince them, they convince themselves.

In the first two weeks of the Healthy & Fit Lifestyle program, the feedback is: “I feel great, I could never go back to the sedentary life I had before.”

There are countless examples of people who feel good and thank us after accessing the Online Rehab program. This is my happiness when I see that patients feel good and can return to their normal lives without pain.

For overweight people do you have advice on controlled exercise and also on diet?

There are no people who do not like to move, there are only people who have not yet discovered the right type of movement for them. It is important to try different sports and be open to what could be the joy of discovering a new passion.

What would be the difference between a gym where people subscribe and your proposal?

The Healthy & Fit Lifestyle coaching program is a path to self-knowledge. It’s the way to become the best, fit and healthy version of you. It is the way I help you to reach that ideal variant that you dream of, how you see yourself, how you feel ideally. I accompany you, guide you and provide you with the necessary support to get where you want.

How do you manage to make your patients consciously choose a healthy lifestyle and not just adopt the new measures for a limited period?

This is the basic idea, the core of the Healthy & Fit Lifestyle program. Transforming into your best option. Nothing in this program is preset or pre-programmed. Everything is adapted to the personality and need of the person going through this program. It is a path of self-discovery and self-knowledge. I do not come up with a recipe for “that’s good and that’s how you have to do it”. Transformations will be lasting if they come from within, not from without. In each of us there is a better, more dynamic, happier, healthier version that looks and feels good. I help those who need help to self-evaluate, to see what they want, where they want to go and what they are willing to do for it. Then together we develop a short and long term strategy and then we get to where we set out to be.

Of course I use my medical knowledge, my nutrition knowledge, my experience in everything related to movement and how it can be used for maximum benefit and last but not least my personal coaching knowledge.

We could all have an extraordinary life, even if for each of us it actually means something different!

How do you manage to have a flat stomach after two births? What do you eat, when and how much?

Because I love sports and especially running, I practice them with great pleasure. I eat healthy but I don’t stick to, and I don’t believe in, diets and restrictions. I think each of us is built in a unique way and has different needs.

Because running was part of my routine, I continued to run during pregnancy and I felt great. That helped me have 2 easy births and recover very quickly.

How do you organize an “attack” plan when osteoarticular and musculoskeletal pain occur?

I consult and listen to the patient very carefully and I make sure that I have made an accurate diagnosis. The key and mastery of the Medical Rehabilitation doctor is to make an accurate diagnosis because only then can an appropriate treatment be given to really help the patient.

You have a new project so that your patients can perform the treatment at home. Can you tell us a few words about it?

The project is called Online Rehab and came to life during a pandemic. I had a lot of pain patients who needed my help and that of the team of physiotherapists and through consulting and physical therapy I really helped those people. Now the project has taken off and is developing more and more because the need for medical recovery is very high and the benefits of this service are wonderful. We had patients who couldn’t move their fingers and now they write and sew and can close their buttons, we had patients who couldn’t move because they had an acute lombagoo and we managed to help them get back to a normal life.

It is a wonderful project that I am very proud of.

The idea that a person can perform a treatment at home is very good. Do you send them a model for which you worked on a similar diagnosis or do you customize it?

The person in front of me is always important. His condition and manifestation is unique. I treat the man not the disease. That’s why I make sure I give him an accurate diagnosis and give him a personalized treatment, which is for his condition and pain.

Also, the team of physiotherapists I work with is very skilled and I am sure that patients get the attention and coordination they need. This is also the reason why patients have such good results.

Are you a team, you and the patient?

The patient, the doctor and the physiotherapist are always an interdependent team. I make an accurate diagnosis and give a wonderful treatment in vain if the physiotherapist does not listen or follow my instructions; it is also in vain if I and the physiotherapist do our job very well if the patient does not follow the instructions and does not do his treatment, and vice versa.

Teamwork and trust in each other is very important.

Will your children lead a sporty life? If they are still computer addicted, how do you convince them that sport is vital?

My children are quite active. I like to take them to sports that they enjoy, I never forced them to do a certain type of sport. I let them find out what they like and that’s how I’m sure. They will enjoy that sport with pleasure for a long time.

Besides, I think that my parents’ example is very important and my boys have been to support me countless times when I participated in half marathons. They are already passionate about running, so I dreamed of participating in races together.

Do you recommend performance sports for talented children to parents? Do you think that performance sports can affect the health of the osteoarticular system for later?

Children are very active and need as much outdoor movement as possible to be healthy. The secret to making a child constantly practice a sport is to discover what sport he likes or is passionate about. The rest comes naturally. Also, if there is a native inclination for performance and the child wants to do so, the support and encouragement of the parent will only give him wings.

But performance sports come with many sacrifices and pains. What matters is what you really want.

Children are very active and need as much outdoor movement as possible to be healthy. The secret to making a child constantly practice a sport is to discover what sport he likes or is passionate about. The rest comes naturally. Also, if there is a native inclination for performance and the child wants to do so, the support and encouragement of the parent will only give him wings.

But performance sports come with many sacrifices and pains. What matters is what you really want.

What do we do with our grandparents? Do you recommend an active life to them?

Yes Yes Yes. Recent studies show that neuroplasticity, i.e. the property of the brain to change its structural and functional organization in response to environmental information is activated by sport. In other words, the brain is kept young and active. Studies also show that movement prevents diseases such as senile dementia and Alzheimer’s.

I think the beneficial effect of movement on maintaining body function and preventing “ankylosis” is well-known, and I don’t think there’s any point in mentioning it again.

Can the gentlemen in our lives take advantage of your advice?

As a  team we are always stronger, so if the family forms a team whose goal is to have a healthy and fit life, everyone has something to gain.

About how long would it be appropriate to move daily? Some are satisfied with “three times a week”. What is your opinion?

The international recommendations of the Diabetes, Cancer, Hypertension, Obesity, Depression, etc. Societies made after numerous studies have common indications: at least 30 minutes every day to prevent the occurrence of chronic diseases.

I like walking. Running for you. Can you please argue the benefits of jogging over brisk walking?

As I said, there is no universal recipe. I also really like Yoga and there are times when I want to do Yoga at the expense of running. Some people like to dance or swim. As long as it is practiced regularly, any type of movement is beneficial.

It is very important to listen to our body and make a type of movement that we enjoy, because this is how we harmoniously combine health and pleasure.

Up to what age can you jog?

There is no age limit. There are more motivational stories about ladies who started practicing bodybuilding at the age of 60, reaching an extraordinary look at the age of 80, or about 80-year-old gentlemen who came to the catwalks to present fashion for well-known designers.

I had a patient who put on a knee prosthesis at the age of 67 because she didn’t want to give up her passion: to rollerskate. I also had a 76-year-old patient who came to recovery because she did not want to give up her passion: climbing the mountain even though she had a meniscus rupture.

As I said, each of us can have an extraordinary life if he wants it.

Do you apply the type of sport for the patient’s ailments? If so, can you give us a summary of what kind of sport to do if we have knee, back, shoulder pain, etc.?

For ailments and injuries, each patient receives treatment that also involves medical exercises. These are not a type of sport but are a form of beneficial movement that reduces pain and treats the cause. It’s what I call a “movement pill.” The patient with hypertension knows that in order to regulate his blood pressure, he must take the pill every day exactly as prescribed by his doctor. This is exactly the case with the “exercise pill”, administered constantly and according to the doctor’s instructions it works wonders and prevents the appearance of much more serious problems.

If we exercise regularly, is it enough to not need to have a diet?

I don’t believe in diets.

I strongly believe in healthy eating and lifestyle. If you eat healthy and exercise, you certainly don’t need artificially imposed things like “diets”.

In conclusion, we are waiting for your advice on how to stay active for as long as possible.

My advice is to take care of your health. Health is the most important thing. It is much more important to stay healthy than to cure.

And I wish you to be Fit & Healthy in your best version!

If you want more information or have questions, you can contact Codruța by private message on the Facebook page Dr. Codruța Cioponea.

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1 thought on “Learning how to love sport with Medical Doctor Codruța Cioponea”

  1. Christophe VALENTIN

    Very interesting advices that help a lot on long term to stay in a pretty good health. Thanks a lot

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