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The Best Kind of Prescription

by Melanie Fuller PCN Live Well | April 21 2016

Haven’t we all had a time in our lives when we were being good to ourselves—eating healthier and getting a little more activity in our day—but were thrown off our routine? Coming back from a vacation or other break can be a major hurdle to getting back on track. Or maybe you have a medical issue causing a physical set back, and you’re faced with pain or limitations in your daily routine and now you find yourself tired and out of shape.

Where do you go from here? How do you bounce back when “life” gets in the way?

Getting back on track

Did you know that you can receive a prescription for physical activity? Primary Care Network (PCN) doctors and members of their healthcare teams are providing patients a special Prescription To Get Active. This is a program targeted to patients of all ages—children, teens, adults and seniors—who are not physically active enough but otherwise healthy. Check out the Prescription To Get Active website for full details on the program and how you can incorporate it into your wellness planning. The website also includes a number of suggestions for increasing activity into your life—use it as a resource to share with coworkers at your next staff meeting!

Start back slowly

If you’re re-starting your previous exercise routine, don’t start where you left off. A little known secret is to start at 50 per cent of what you used to do. So, if you used to walk for 20 minutes, four times per week, start back with two, 10-minute walks in your week. It won’t feel as daunting, you’ll experience success more quickly and you’ll decrease your risk of injury and fatigue. Think about establishing a “Get Back on Track” exercise program at key times during the year (September, January and post-Spring Break) that supports colleagues with a gradual increase in frequency and duration of the activity.

Re-establish goals for the “NOW”

Things may be different; maybe your limitations and your expectations are unrealistic. It’s not what you “used to do” that’s important, it’s what you’re doing now, today, that matters most. One strategy to help with this is to choose an entirely new activity. It’s a fresh start! There are no previous expectations to compare it to, or reason to feel bad about not accomplishing what you used to.

Recruit support

You may be surprised how many friends, family members and colleagues are out there just waiting for someone to go for a walk with, or invite them to a class. It’s easier to start an activity with a support person to help keep you accountable, pass the time and offer encouragement. Be honest with yourself and ask for help and support—you’ll no doubt find that your support person or group gets as much out of the activity as you do!

Be creative

Did you know many recreation facilities will let you observe a program or try a session for free? All you have to do is ask. Generally, fear of the unknown keeps us stuck in our regular patterns or routines. If you’ve had a setback, ask an exercise professional or try a supervised program. They may give you more ideas or options you didn’t know were out there or that you could safely accomplish. Partnering with a recreation facility in your area makes it easier for your colleagues to see their options for easing back into their routine.

Remember, moving is for EVERYONE.  It doesn’t matter where you start, only that you start!

Melanie Fuller

As a former project manager for the Edmonton Zone Primary Care Networks, 'Mel’s' career as a clinical exercise physiologist has had a major impact on her super mission to get people moving! And you won’t get a chance to see her idle. In fact, being a triplet and the only girl in a family of boys has left her quick on her feet—literally. Mel’s so busy she makes a point of using her feet as a second pair of hands. As she says, “four hands are just better than two!” True story, Mel, true story.