Studies show that patients who stick to their prescribed physio exercise program have a much higher chance of success, with faster recovery and less ongoing pain (Vermeire E et al 2001).

But non-adherence to exercise plans has been shown to be as high as 50-70%.  (Bassett 2003)

So why do so many people find it difficult to commit to their exercises on a regular and consistent basis?

Many of our clients explain that it’s due to lack of time and forgetting to get their exercises done amid the other priorities of their lives.

So here are our top tips for incorporating your exercises into your daily routines to set yourself up for success.

1. Have regular, consistent times to perform your exercises

Many people recommend having a structured morning routine to complete your highest priorities for health and wellbeing. By completing your most important habits first thing in the morning, you’re reducing the chance of them being forgotten and overlooked as the day gets busier.

We also recommend incorporating your physiotherapy exercises into your morning routine. In fact, we suggest topping and tailing the day with your exercises as part of your routine. As it becomes part of your daily rituals, it will become second nature (just like brushing your teeth).

2. Schedule your exercise time into your calendar

“Some time tomorrow” is likely to turn into “there’s no time left today”, so block out the time it takes to complete your exercises in your calendar. If it’s staring back at you from your digital calendar or diary, you’re more likely to get it done.

3. We can’t manage what we don’t measure – track your commitment

We suggest keeping a track of your exercises to hold yourself accountable and measure how often they’re getting done. Just like a keeping a food diary can make you more aware of your food habits, keeping track of your exercises can highlight how often (or not!) you’re completing your home exercise program. At Brisbane Physio Specialists we use the Physiotec program that enables you to set reminders and track your performance.

Whether it’s a paper diary, or an app that lets you track your goals, you’ll be more likely to acknowledge when you miss a day, and keep yourself on track.

4. Use your technology to your advantage

While we can be a slave to our technology at times, we can also use it to our advantage. People with musculoskeletal conditions adhere better to their home exercise programs when the programs are provided on an app with remote support compared to paper handouts (Lambert et al 2017). Set up reminders on your phone or use an app such as “Stand up” to prompt you to change position or do your exercises.

5. Set up triggers as reminders throughout the day

For those exercises that you need to do more than once during the day, set up mental triggers to remind you. For example, you might do a particular stretch whenever you’re waiting for your coffee to brew or the kettle to boil. Or you might correct your posture every time you see the colour red (eg a red light or stop sign). 

6. Remove friction and make it as easy as possible to do your exercises

Even the littlest things can give us an excuse to avoid doing something we know is important, so we recommend removing as much friction and making it as easy as possible to get your physiotherapy exercises done.

So if you want to do your stretches first thing in the morning, have your mat (and therapy bands if you need them) beside your bed or as handy as possible. If they’re difficult to get to, you might find an excuse.

By setting up systems, creating structure and identifying ways to keep yourself on track, you’re more likely to be consistent and reduce the chance of recurrence of your injury.

References

Bassett S (2003): The assessment of patient adherence to physiotherapy rehabilitation. NZ J Physiotherapy 31: 60–66

Lambert TE et al (2017): An app with remote support achieves better adherence to home exercise programs than paper handouts in people with musculoskeletal conditions: a randomised trial. Journal of Physiotherapy 63: 161–167

Vermeire E et al (2001): Patient adherence to treatment: three decades of research. A comprehensive review Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 26 (5) pp. 331-342