Exercise Exercise

Listed below are ten tips for promoting physical activity adherence.

  1. Help patients to understand the importance of exercise. See Physical activity, exercise and heart failure guide for patients.
  2. Set goals in the short, medium and longer term in collaboration with the patient. Behavioural goals should be realistic and measurable, but also flexible, given the unpredictable nature of HF. Build in a method of ensuring positive reinforcement of attained goals, to sustain motivation to continue to exercise. See behavioural goal setting.
  3. Encourage patients to consider exercise to be as important as medication in the medical management of heart conditions.
  4. Ensure patients understand that they will have 'bad days', when exercise will be more difficult, and that modulation of the program over time is NOT a sign of failure.
  5. Encourage patients to make exercise a social event – for example, to exercise with a group or partner.
  6. Choose exercise activities that are enjoyable, easy to access and take place in a comfortable, non-threatening environment.
  7. Urge patients to set aside specific times to exercise.
  8. Promote physical activity in daily recreational, domestic and vocational activities, as symptoms allow.
  9. Consider using a pedometer to motivate patients by providing feedback on the amount of physical activity undertaken. Walking for 30 minutes per day plus normal daily activity equates to 7000-10,000 steps on a pedometer.
  10. Understand barriers to change.