Are you asking your patients the right questions as a sports chiropractor?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that, in order to obtain “important health benefits,” the average adult should engage in a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and two days of muscle building exercises per week. Even older adults, which they define as individuals 65 and older, should reach this same level of activity weekly to obtain and sustain a higher level of health. But how many people actually hit these objectives?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, not many. Based on their information, only one in five people actually engage in this level of physical activity, which means that 80 percent of the population isn’t hitting these minimum recommended amounts.
Though this may be discouraging, the positive side of these numbers is that many people (maybe even you?) need encouragement and advice when it comes to physical exercise. Encouragement and advice that you, a healthcare professional can give.
But what type of exercise recommendations should you give? It all depends on the person’s answers to these five questions.
1. What are your goals?
Trying to recommend a particular exercise program without first knowing the person’s goals is like trying to recommend a place to eat without knowing their food preferences. You may suggest an excellent option, but if it doesn’t fit in with what they want, they’re not likely to take your advice.
That’s why it’s important to know what it is the person hopes to achieve by engaging in an exercise regimen before making any recommendations. For instance, if the person wants to slim down while letting go of some anxiety and stress, then a cardio program may be the best. However, if his or her goal is to build more muscle, an exercise routine that includes strength training is going to provide the best results.
2. Do you have any physical or health-related restrictions or limitations?
Research most any exercise program and you’ll likely find a statement somewhere in their marketing materials that says, “Please check with your doctor before beginning this, or any, exercise program.” Though this is used so often that it is typically overlooked, the reality is that even if the person is able to participate in a certain exercise program, that doesn’t mean that he or she should.
Asking whether there are any physical or health-related issues that could potentially restrict or limit a person’s exercise serves two purposes. First, you’re showing that you care about your patient’s total health and wellness and, second, you’re able to provide a better recommendation based on the person’s individual situation and concerns.
Of course, you may know some of them due to their basic health history within your files, but it never hurts to ask. Some things change over time and, if a patient has been with you long-term, he or she is more likely to open up.
3. How active are you right now?
The great thing about being super motivated to start an exercise program is that you’re ready to jump right in and hit the highest level of intensity possible. The bad thing about being super motivated to start an exercise program is that you’re ready to jump right in and hit the highest level of intensity possible.
In this day and age, we are growing more and more accustomed to getting what we want at the snap of a finger. However, taking this rapid-fire approach to exercise can ultimately do more harm than good as this is often where injuries can arise. So, it helps to determine the person’s starting point and advise them to work up slowly from there.
4. How much time are you willing and/or able to commit to an exercise program?
Asking this question is critical because you want to recommend an exercise program that fits in the person’s lifestyle, increasing the likelihood that they’ll actually stick with it. If you don’t and wind up suggesting a workout regimen that is either too short in duration or too long, then they’ll probably just give it up anyway.
For instance, if the person wants fast results and can sustain fairly high levels of intensity, yet doesn’t want to spend hours in the gym, high intensity interval training (HIIT) may be a good recommendation as sessions are generally anywhere from 10-20 minutes in length. However, if they require a lower intensity program and have 30-60 minutes to dedicate daily, another option—like walking or yoga—may suit them better.
5. Why is this so important to you?
Although this is the last question on the list, it is also one of the most important. The more a person recognizes why this goal is a priority, the greater the likelihood that he or she will reach it because it will help when times get tough, which they will.
As their healthcare provider, knowing this information can also help you motivate your patients when they are ready to give up. Remind them of why they want to be in better shape. Help them envision life once they reach their goals.
And if it’s you that needs motivation and encouragement, get in touch with your own why. Remind yourself that you serve as a role model for your patients, someone who they aspire to be like. Let that help you reach your health and fitness goals. After all, it’s just as important for you as it is for them.