The Arthritis Newsletter

Fall 2012

Adherence: A Patient's Perspective

Written by: Lianne Gulka


Following up on Anne Townsend’s information on “adherence” and “compliance” with respect to medical advice, it appears that actively involving patients in the consultation process produces a more successful health outcome.  Speaking from personal experience, and based on the physician’s prescription for regular cardio-exercise, I thought I’d share a technique for exercise that has worked for me…


The Tip: Find an activity or sport you once enjoyed in the past, regardless of intensity, level of competition, length of workout, or current expectation around performance.  Now, start that same activity or sport, but modify it to suit your ability; in other words, a level of performance that is comfortable for you.  Remember not to set unrealistic goals; simply enjoy the activity


For me, swimming was something I always enjoyed so I decided to start swimming again; only this time I began slowly, respecting my limitations.  Eventually, my strength increased, my aquatic workout intensified, and my workouts became more varied. This change was directly related to the many benefits I was experiencing:  easy on the joints, low impact, improved flexibility, a cardiovascular workout, overall muscle toning, and a Zen-like meditation experience.  And, I was able to “buy in” to the activity because it was something I had enjoyed in the past.


It seems as though taking the time to identify which activity was important to me, rather than being told which activity to pursue, resulted in adherence.  Perhaps identifying a favourite activity or sport during a medical consultation where exercise is being recommended could help you adhere to a recommended exercise program. Using this technique to guide my decision helped me “adhere” to my exercise regimen and it seems to have happened magically!

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