Tips to Help You Adhere to Exercise Programs in the New Year

By Victoria Luddy

The new year is just around the corner! This is your year! You have set goals and made New Year’s resolutions, one of which may include exercise, while another goal may include taking care of yourself and addressing pain that may limit your ability to exercise. 

But how can you be accountable for these resolutions when they seem to negate each other: “I have pain; therefore, I cannot exercise.” Although, on the opposite spectrum, do not get fooled into the saying “No pain, no gain” either. Let a physical therapist be your guide in finding the perfect balance or you! 

Your first step in improving your health may include a visit to a physical therapist. After a full examination, a physical therapist may provide you with education on your condition, demonstration of movements that may be beneficial or detrimental for your condition, perform hands-on manual therapy techniques, and finally, a home exercise program. Yes, exercises to help with your pain! 

Exercise is one of the most conservative and beneficial treatments you can be prescribed as long as it is deemed appropriate for your condition. Exercise is important to correct flaws and improve your overall health and well being. 

In physical therapy, we prescribe exercises daily. Exercises are provided for all different types of impairments, including posture, range of motion, strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, just to name a few. The overall goal is to manage the pain, improve on deficits observed, and allow the client to be independent in a home exercise program. It may take one or two sessions or a few weeks, but in the end you are provided with the tools you will need to maintain your health and manage your pain (if any at this point). 

Now the important part - beyond the office visits you are now accountable for yourself and adherence to an exercise program, both exercises for your initial pain (from the physical therapist) and now going forward for your overall health and wellness. Do not let the novelty of the benefits of exercise cease beyond the prescription pad of “2-3x week for 4 weeks.” 

Here are tips to help adhere to exercise programs, both rehabilitative or wellness/fitness, that we find helpful in the clinic when we provide exercise programs: 

Set a Goal

Set short-term goals and set long term goals. Goals should be realistic, yet motivational. Write these goals down or share with a friend.

Make Time

It is difficult to make time when you feel overwhelmed with an already jam packed day. Start with the time that you feel most productive or at your peak, do you prefer mornings or evenings. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you.

Educate Yourself

There is a multitude of evidence based research available in online journals, magazines, and other publications. Sometimes it is easier to understand the point of exercise when you can read a study and understand the validity behind exercise and why it is beneficial. Health care providers and exercise specialists can discuss the benefits of exercise and supply research too.

Make Exercises Simple and Functional

 Exercise can be performed anywhere, from the home, gym, outdoors, or work. Be as creative and resourceful as you can with the objects you already have in your home when performing exercises. There are plenty of great fitness tools, accessories and equipment to modify or progress your exercises.

Make the Exercises Visible

Write exercises down and create a checklist. Ask for pictures when seeing a physical therapist or exercise specialist. Video a rehabilitation specialist or exercise specialist performing the exercises to watch for technique and body mechanics to use as a reference tool It is difficult to start anything new and stick with it, but compliance is importance. The benefits of exercise are lifesaving!