Finding the motivation to exercise is difficult enough for healthy people, what more for patientswho are dealing with illness and discomfort on a daily basis? As a hospitalist, however, it is up to you to keep them on board with the patient exercise program.  By doing so, you give them a better chance to recover faster and manage their condition better. So what do you do to achieve this tall order? Here are some tips to help you out.

  1. Highlight the benefits.

Instead of focusing on exercise, stress on the benefits when discussing the exercise program with your patient. Patients, especially those who are in pain and those who are still coming to terms with their condition and treatment, won’t be too thrilled with the prospect of physically straining themselves.But if you start speaking about results, you might get them to see the value of the program and how it will improve their health.

In the same way, you have to set proper expectations. For example, you can inform patients suffering from stiffness that doing a certain exercise program will allow them to increase range of motion by 30% in only three days. Make the benefits concrete so that they have something specific to look forward to. Saying that doing this particular exercise will relieve half of their back pain in a week is a lot better than simply prescribing a routine with a vague promise that it is “good for them”.

  1. Make it interactive.

Help your patients find motivation to exercise by making it interactive. Instead of showing them a piece of paper with the exercise program printed on it, pick educational materials that show what the program does and how your patients can get the most out of their treatment. You can also incorporate photos and videos of real people performing the exercise routine. This does multiple things.

First, it makes the program more enticing and exciting. At the same time, it shows the patient how to actually do the exercise with proper form. This builds confidence and increases results. Eventually, your patients will be more empowered to exercise on their own. Also, when your patients can see how to do things right, they’ll be able to perform their exercise properly with minimal attention. You, in turn, will spend less time retraining them, lessening the need for you to go back and forth for the duration of the treatment.

  1. Customize it.

Every patient is unique and much of their compliance to an exercise program depends on how well it fits their lifestyle and needs. As such, start with the right routine.

If a patient only has 30 minutes at a time, do not prescribe an exercise program that is an hour long. In fact, exercises that are short but efficient are better. Also, give them choices. You can design a set of exercises that they can rotate to avoid boredom. Discuss with your patient all possible ways to make the program more accessible. The more the program is designed to fit the patient’s day or schedule, the more likely it is that the patient will adopt the said program.

  1. Create pre-workout rituals.

It is important to set the patient up for success. Introduce them to pre-workout rituals. A pre-workout ritual could be anything that can serve as a mental stimulant. It can be listening to your favorite music, having a light breakfast, or putting your sneakers on. It places you in the right mindset to exercise – if you are doing so and so, it is time to get moving.

Also, it helps if the ritual is done in the morning. As the day goes on, it becomes more difficult to motivate the body. It is better to exercise in the morning, get it done early, and go on with the day. Frame it as an added incentive: workout early and the rest of the day is yours.

Once you succeed in motivating your patients to attend their exercise program, you’ll have an easier time keeping them on track to recovery and better health.