5 Holiday Giving Options Offering Healthful Returns

The Holiday Season is a time for giving, and that includes supporting causes and organizations that make our communities stronger.

It’s in this spirit that we share some holiday giving suggestions that offer a more healthful return than simply writing a check.

After all, as physical therapists, it’s our goal to improve lives and the community by helping people move better and live healthier, more active lives.

It’s based on this that we thought to offer some ideas for how people can give back to their communities while, at the same time, also benefiting from various levels of physical activity.

Increase Joy, Reduce Stress

Such an approach to holiday giving isn’t just about contributing to one’s 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, as recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The holidays are a pretty stressful time for a lot of people, and exercise is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety while improving overall happiness. It just so happens giving and volunteering provide similar health benefits.

Put them together, and you’re likely to experience a more joyful and relaxing holiday season.”

With this in mind, consider following five ways to give back and be fit this Holiday Season:

Volunteer ‘Sweat Equity’

There are lots of ways to volunteer during the holidays, and many involve various levels of physical activity.

Collecting gift donations for a local children’s charity, for instance, or helping sort and deliver food donations for a food pantry, requires time, muscle and (if it’s a charitable year) good endurance.

Do a Charity Fun Run

Running continues to grow in popularity, and so do charity fun runs – even during the colder months of the year.

Registration for these runs typically goes to local charities, and some allow for added individual or team fundraising so you can maximize your donation.

Check your local event calendar for options.

Lend a Neighbor a Hand

Most of us have neighbors who could use a helping hand on occasion, be they elderly, disabled, alone, or short on time or money.

The holidays are a great time to check in with them and see if they could use some help with physical tasks like yard work, clearing the driveway of snow or ice, putting out Christmas decorations, or even childcare.

Walk Your Best Friends

Are animals your passion? Perfect! Animals need exercise just like people do, and most animal shelters welcome volunteers eager to play with and walk the dogs and cats.

Not only is walking great exercise for both people and pets, but spending time with animals can also lower stress and blood pressure.

Arm Your Smartphone

If the interpersonal aspect of volunteering doesn’t quite fit your personality, you still have options.

Some smartphone apps exist (Charity Miles is the most prominent) that allow you to convert workout miles and/or daily activity into donations to reputable nonprofit organizations.

Of course, if one or more of these ideas sound appealing, but discomfort, pain or a movement limitation is holding you back from giving back in this way, come by the physical therapy clinic.

At our clinic, we can assess the issue and put you on a path toward being more active – both physically and as a contributor to your community.

Armada Physical Therapy – Coors

Hours:
Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:00pm

Physical Therapy Treatment & Services

  • Fall Prevention Programs
  • Manual Physical Therapy
  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Pediatric Orthopedic PT
  • Spine Rehabilitation
  • Sports Medicine
  • Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

Headshot of Armand Larragoite, a physical therapist in Albuquerque, NMArmand Larragoite, PT, DPT, Clinic Director

Armand received his doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2015 from the University of New Mexico. He began working in outpatient physical therapy right after school and is ASTM certified. Armand uses manual therapy in combination with exercise and dry needling level 1 to help return patients to their previous level of function. He enjoys working with all populations especially high school athletes for return to sport and injury prevention. In his free time Armand enjoys competing in CrossFit and camping with his wife and two dogs.

Armada Physical Therapy – Jefferson

Hours:
Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:00pm

Best Physical Therapy Services

  • Fall Prevention Programs
  • Manual Physical Therapy
  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Pediatric Orthopedic PT
  • Spine Rehabilitation
  • Sports Medicine
  • Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Work Injury Rehabilitation
  • Pelvic Health

Elizabeth Lonergan, PT, DPT, CSCS Clinic Director

Elizabeth has been practicing as an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist since her graduation from the University of New Mexico Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2015. She is passionate about using her skills in manual therapy and exercise prescription to decrease pain and return patients to the activities they love.

She has always had a special interest in using her skills as a PT to help the women in her community live healthy, active, and pain free lifestyles. This led her to study Pelvic Health with the Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute. Here she was able to expand her skills as a PT to work specifically with women suffering from pelvic pain, incontinence, and pregnancy-related low back pain. She also received training in Pelvic Floor dry needling. She is excited to offer these services to empower women to achieve limit-free lives without fear or pain.

As a classically trained dancer, Elizabeth also has a particular interest in the treatment of dancers. She has completed training with Marika Molnar, the physical therapy provider for New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet. She has also attended courses with NYU’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries for dance specific rehabilitation, shoe fitting, and dance nutrition. Elizabeth has had the opportunity to work with many dance companies in Albuquerque and is the premier doctor of physical therapy for Keshet Dance Company and New Mexico Ballet Company.

Outside of work, Elizabeth continues to dance and enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 dogs.

Armada Physical Therapy – Los Lunas

Hours:
Monday to Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm

Physical Therapist Services

  • Fall Prevention Programs
  • Manual Physical Therapy
  • Post-Surgical Rehab Physical Therapy
  • Pediatric Orthopedic PT
  • Spine Rehabilitation
  • Sports Medicine
  • Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

Meet Our Clinicians

Melody Rattanapote, PT, DPT, Clinic Director

Mel is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Albuquerque. She graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Missouri State University before returning to New Mexico to work in outpatient, inpatient, and home health rehab physical therapy settings. Mel has spent her career in the rural communities of Socorro and Valencia counties and has treated many patients from age 0 to 97 with a variety of musculoskeletal and neurological pathologies. She has specialized training in functional dry needling in addition to other familiar evidence-based physical therapy interventions and techniques. Mel prefers individualized treatment sessions and is passionate about patient education and the restoration of function and quality of life. When not in the clinic, Mel spends her time with her furry children and enjoys photography, hiking, road biking, and playing board games.

Mercedes Van Meter, PT, DPT

Mercedes was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and moved to New Mexico following her admission to the University of New Mexico school of Medicine Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. She loved New Mexico and the beauty it had to offer so much that she decided to stay following her graduation from UNM in 2020. Within the physical therapy realm, she is passionate about sports rehab, healthcare for rural populations, and better understanding biomechanics in order to provide the best care for her patients. Mercedes has treated patients of a variety of ages and conditions and is comfortable working with musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. Her priority is to advocate for each patient and provide them with the individualized care they deserve in a safe and friendly environment. Outside physical therapy, Mercedes loves to horseback ride, hike, exercise, play with her dog, and spend time with friends and family.

Armada Physical Therapy – Menaul

Hours:
Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6:00pm

Services

  • Fall Prevention Programs
  • Manual Physical Therapy
  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Pediatric Orthopedic PT
  • Spine Rehabilitation
  • Sports Medicine
  • Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

K. Violet Gonzagowski, DPT, Clinic Director

Violet earned the professional designation of Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic physical therapy from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of New Mexico.

Her practice relies heavily on manual therapy techniques including dry needling, spinal manipulation, cupping, and IASTM.  Violet has completed continuing education to treat vestibular disorders, runners, and a variety of orthopedic conditions.  She is particularly interested in treating foot, ankle, and upper extremity cases.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, three-legged dog, practicing yoga, playing golf, and traveling whenever possible.

Tracy Mechenbier, DPT

Tracy has practiced primarily in the outpatient orthopedic setting and has also continued to work in the inpatient neurological rehab setting, on a PRN basis to keep up her skills. She obtained her B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of New Mexico before attaining her Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy from UNM in 2015. Tracy’s strengths are in constructing creative exercise programs relevant to patient’s lifestyles, as well as performing manual therapy techniques. She currently utilizes dry needling for pain reduction and to address ROM limitations. Prior to working as a physical therapist, Tracy was a personal trainer and soccer coach. She played competitive soccer throughout her youth and into college. Currently she spends her free time staying active with her husband and four young children.

Armada Physical Therapy – Rio Rancho

Hours:
Monday, Wednesday 8:00am to 6:00pm
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 7:30am to 2:30pm

Services

  • Fall Prevention Programs
  • Manual Physical Therapy
  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Pediatric Orthopedic PT
  • Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilizations (IASTYM)
  • Spine Rehabilitation
  • Sports Medicine
  • Peri-Neural and Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Work Injury Rehabilitation

Timothy Serrano, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, Clinic Director

A California native, Timothy, moved to New Mexico and completed his undergraduate degree from UNM in 2008. He then took time to study Black Mantled Howler monkeys in Costa Rica and Ecuador as a research assistant before earning his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina in 2013. He has since earned several advanced certifications including his Diploma of Osteopractic (2015) from the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT) that comprises certifications in Spinal Manipulation (Cert. SMT) and musculoskeletal and peri-neural Dry Needling (Cert. DN). In 2018 he completed an Orthopedic Fellowship accredited with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) which is a national organization committed to excellence in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy practice, education and research. During his Fellowship he helped conduct research on cervicogenic headaches (headaches that are caused by the upper neck) with AAMT. As of 2019 he is one of eight with the FAAOMPT distinction in the entire state of New Mexico.  He has  a tremendous passion for helping all patients with any musculoskeletal conditions and works well with patients in targeting and achieving their specific goals for returning and restoring them back to their desired quality of life. When he is not in the clinic, he enjoys playing board games with friends and family, hiking, camping or exploring the outdoors with his dog Rupert.

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