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How to Start a Group
Exercise Program in Your Practice
BY ADRIAN DEN BOER, DC, ND
“Exercise is medicine.” This is probably one of the most to-the-point and impactful pieces of advice you can give your patients. The improvements exercise imparts on health, including rate of healing and decreased pain, are so significant that we are doing our patients a disservice if we neglect to encourage exercise in all its forms.
But how do you effectively incorporate exercise into your practice? You walk the walk (pun intended) and start exercising.
It’s difficult to motivate your patients if you don’t practice what you preach. Advice must come strongly, sincerely and from the heart.
Compliance improves dramatically when exercise is done in groups. Individual rehab/exercise sessions are reserved for acute cases and merit personalized care, but for patients looking to improve their health, group exercise sessions are a great option. Group exercise sessions work best with six to 12 people and should offer a change of pace from what is offered at the local gym.
Remember, as a health care provider, you are in a unique position to both engage patients in an exercise routine and educate them about the health benefits of exercise, and you can do that without extensive—or expensive—equipment.
Bodyweight exercise truly shines in returning patients to optimal movement and function. For example, when bench-pressing, the core is supported by the bench. With pushups, burpees, sprints and other bodyweight exercises, the core is fully activated. As a bonus, bodyweight exercises are less repetitive and more fun!
6 Tips for Incorporating Group Exercise into Your Practice
Group classes should be reserved for patients who can participate in bodyweight exercises without risk of injury. For acute or complicated cases, use one-on-one rehabilitation along with nutraceutical support and food coaching. As patients emerge out of acute status, they can join group classes for strengthening and rehabilitation.
Group classes can be as minimal as a three-session course teaching patients fundamental bodyweight exercises. Just know that significant gains in patient health and compliance are consistent with 12-week membership classes hosted three times per week. This timeframe allows for greater skill acquisition and fitness level to be attained.
Poll your patients to determine what exercise skills they’re interested in learning.
During times when in-person exercise sessions are restricted, consider taking your sessions virtual by using programs like Zoom. Patients can sign up for the event and receive a unique link that allows them to join the session live. Sessions can also be recorded and emailed to patients.
Classes should incorporate simple equipment that can be easily duplicated at home. TRX bands, Swiss ball, and plyometric box exercises are all good candidates for exercise modalities.
If possible, providing nutraceutical support and diet counseling during the session adds unique value for your practice—and will deliver superior results! A diet rich in whole, real foods is essential for optimal movement and fitness. I also recommend supplements to support the regenerative process, including turmeric (a formula including all components of the turmeric root is preferred), collagen (choose one that includes collagen hydrolysate, hyaluronic acid, and mucopolysaccharides), green tea extract, arabinogalactan, skullcap root, and quercetin.
ADRIAN DEN BOER DC, ND
Educated in both the Netherlands and the United States, Dr. Adrian den Boer is a board-certified and licensed Naturopathic and Chiropractic physician. In addition, Dr. den Boer is fully certified as a functional medicine doctor. Dr. den Boer has treated over 10,000 patients successfully by utilizing multiple resources to manage patient care. Most recently, he joined the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center as the Clinical Expert serving the MSK Solutions Pain Recovery Program.
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