The 6 'Must Reads' before seeing an Exercise Physiologist
Sometimes you must get on first base before you hit a homerun.
For us to achieve greater long-term goals, it is often more beneficial to set smaller goals first or focus more so on behaviour changes rather than the goal itself. What this means is sometimes we need to lower our expectations for the short term, rather than focusing on the larger long-term goal. When I was a young Exercise Physiologist, I was very ambitious and wanted to hit a home run with every client, I wanted them to achieve their large long-term goal quickly and anything short of this was not good enough. As I have developed, I have learnt that we must take our wins, no matter how big or small.
We often see this in the chronic/persistent pain populations – their goal is to be pain free. This goal would be hitting a homerun, if we can get a client that has been in pain for a long time to then be without pain at all. However, what if we could get this individual to manage their pain – get to first base? What if we could prescribe a selection of movements (exercise program) that helps keep the pain low and improves their movement and function? This must be recognised as progress.
It is not your job to set smaller goals or lower expectation, it is our job to help educate and set benchmark milestones.
You've got to trust the process - things don't happen instantly.
Massage certainly has its place, and it feels good to go in, get a massage and walk away feeling better. However, achieving long-term, healthy, lifestyle changes is not like a massage – it’s more of a process. You might not see changes straight away, but you have got to trust that the healthy changes you’re making are working. One exercise session will not help you manage diabetes long term, nor will it prevent a cardiac event or arthritis. Trusting the process and becoming a consistent exerciser may help manage diabetes, it may prevent a cardiac event and it may prevent arthritic pain.
If all the benefits of exercise could be placed into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed drug on the planet. Your health is your responsibility.
It's our job to help educate on the ecosystem of heath. It's our job to help motivate. It's our job to help put together a toolbox of exercises and programs that will help you achieve your goals and improve your health. However, at the end of the day, we cannot do the exercise for you - it is your responsibility to view your own health as a priority.
The best exercise is undoubtedly the one that you'll do.
It is a question we are often asked, “what is the best exercise for…?”
There are certainly different programming protocols for different people and different conditions. We will always tailor an exercise program toward the individual, however the ‘best exercise’ is always the same. The one that you’ll do.
We can create the most complex program in the world, with certain heart rate targets, reps, and sets etc. however, if you don't do it, it’s irrelevant. Movement is key.
If you were to graph your recovery, it will rarely be a straight line.
Much to the dismay of what you may see on social media and in magazines, if you were to graph your recovery, it's rarely going to be in a straight line. We are so often sold this perfect picture of weight loss or recovering from mental illness or managing arthritic pain. In reality, it rarely works like this, if you’re losing weight – you may weigh more today than you did yesterday and that is ok. As stated above it’s a process, and sometimes symptoms may become aggravated. If you were to graph your recovery it would be expected to see ups and downs – so long as the ‘line of best fit’ shows progress.
The human body is a strong structure.
We will all go through periods of our life where our body feels like a Jenga Tower about to collapse, however the human body is far stronger and more resilient than this. The body is made up of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments – with all the organs doing their part to contribute to the ecosystem.
There will always be people/practitioners out there that make money out of your fear. Maybe over-diagnosing, figuratively wrapping you in cotton wool and making you fear exercise unless you’re in their presence. There is certainly a time and a place for rest, though there should not be a time and place where you feel like a practitioner is instilling fear in you, making you keep a repeat appointment for the next decade.