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Exercise Compliance: What Is It?

If you received Physical Therapy in the past, you probably are aware of exercise handouts issued for a home program. If you have had enough therapy, you probably have an entire booklet of exercises! But why is it important to stay compliant with a home exercise program and how can your therapist help with exercise adherence?


Most conditions treated in Physical Therapy respond well with a combination of stretching, strengthening and/or balance activities. If your therapist prescribes a strengthening exercise, you will need to perform that type of exercise 1-3 times per week to achieve anticipated results. If your therapist prescribes stretching exercises, you may need to perform them 5-7 times per week to achieve the desired effect. On average, patients only receive therapy 1-3 times per week; therefore, a home exercise program is issued to optimize your recovery. Not surprising, patients who complete their home exercise program as prescribed have better results and outcomes with physical therapy.


Completing your home exercise program is a good introduction to starting a routine fitness program. Studies have shown the more involved you are with regular activity, the better your quality of life. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, treat depression, improve confidence, improve perceptions of body image, and enhance your mood. In addition to this, injury rates are smaller in populations that are more physically active.


Up to 65% of patients do NOT complete their home exercises on a regular basis. There are many reasons for poor patient compliance ranging from:


•Lack of confidence

•Not enough time

•Depression and anxiety

•Feelings of helplessness

•Poor activity tolerance

•Limited social support

•Low motivation


Your therapist can discuss these barriers and create a plan to increase your compliance. If pain is a limiting factor, your therapist can modify the exercise or review alternatives to certain exercises. In some instances, experiencing low level pain with exercise may be warranted and your therapist can discuss why certain movements will cause pain.


If time is a barrier, your therapist can show you which exercises are most important, as patients who are prescribed 2 exercises are significantly more compliant than those with 4 exercises. They can also talk to you about how to structure an exercise program so it becomes part of your daily routine.


Lack of confidence, depression, anxiety, and poor activity tolerance can be improved with regular participation in exercise, which can improve during your therapy sessions. Your therapist can also help with motivation and help determine specific activities to increase your compliance. Exercises do not always involve gym equipment and your therapist can incorporate enjoyable activities into an exercise.

At David Gilboe and Associates, our team offers personalized care, helping you to tackle some of the challenges we’ve described in this newsletter. We are committed to listening and responding with respect and understanding to ensure your journey toward health is successful. Start your path to recovery with us.

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