A colleague of mine recently read one of my articles at a diabetes internet site. The article had discussed how invaluable exercise was in the successful management of type 2 diabetes. After reading my article she commented on Facebook that it was a nice article but didn’t solve the problem as to how health professionals were to actually get their patients up and moving.
It’s one thing to tell patients that they need to get up and start getting some exercise.
That is relatively easy, although it is still not done as often or with the enthusiasm that it could be. It is quite something else to actually get them to do it. I think most all of us would agree on that.
So I got to thinking, “what would I do, or what have I done in the past with patients that needed to get started exercising?” One time I had a patient and his wife come in for an exercise consultation. When I asked, “What can I do for you today, “the wife responded, He doesn’t do anything all day but sit and watch TV or eat or sleep. He needs to get some exercise but I can’t get him to do anything, all he does is sit there or he’s sleeping.”
“Is that accurate?” I asked the husband.
He shrugged his shoulders, clearly not happy to be here with me.
“So if I have this right, you sit in a recliner pretty much all day to except to get up and go to the bathroom,” I asked.
“The only thing he does is go to the mailbox to get the mail,” adds his wife.
“OK, then you are doing something,” I said, “just not much. How long does it take to get to the mailbox, get the mail, and return to your chair?”
“ Probably 4-5 minutes,” he answered.
“And how do you feel when you get back from picking up the mail?” I asked.
“A little tired, but not bad,” he responded.
“OK, this is what you do. What time do you go to get the mail?” I asked.
“About 12:30,” he answered.
“I want you to also go to the mailbox shortly after you eat breakfast and again late in the afternoon. Now, granted there will only be mail in the mailbox once a day. Do you think you can do that?”
The patient looked at his wife. She looked at him. He then looked at me.
“I think I can do that,” he said, with a surprising glimmer of enthusiasm in his voice.
“OK,” I said, “that sounds good. Now, I want you to do that for the next three weeks.”
“OK, I think I can do that,” he reaffirmed.
My patient actually looked excited, well somewhat excited.
“Now, after three weeks, I want you to walk an estimated 50 yards beyond your mailbox, then turn around and come home. After two weeks of that walk 100 yards beyond your mailbox before you turn around to go home. Believe it or not, your walking will start getting easy.” My patient and his wife just looked at each other and starred. I think I could hear them agreeing with each other.
“I think this could work the wife stated,” still looking at her husband.
The couple looked noticeably happier now versus when they came in. I told them to let me know how it was going and to call me with any questions.
I never heard from them again. I believe they moved back up north.
My patient may now be to busy running marathons to call or write.
Milt Bedingfield is a certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist.
Milt's other website can be found at: http ://www.NewlyDiagnosedDiabetes.com.