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Exercise training for patients: how to effectively implement it?

Implementing exercise training requires an interdisciplinary team approach, from the check-in at hospitals to the referral to professionals.
There’s a multitude of issues when trying to implement EIM in clinical settings. If you approach it as a team approach, it really starts from check-in, check-out. When the patient comes in, can we get that physical activity assessment done along with the height, the way the blood pressure, the body weight, all those different things, and engaging the team members and helping do that initiative. Then can we get the physicians or the nurses and clinicians providing that? Just 30-second counseling. Oh, I see that your exercise levels are a little bit low. Let me give you some suggests. Let me give you some help.
And then finishing that with a referral to outside the clinic, to community-based exercise professionals or other people in the clinic to the community to help them be active. It sounds easy, but when you do it, it’s very, very difficult because often clinicians have many, many other responsibilities. Sometimes that are much more important. Sometimes they don’t have the education, the knowledge, the skills. Sometimes the clinic isn’t supportive. So there’s just a whole host of reasons that I’ll have to come together to make it work perfectly. But when it does, it’s beautiful. We connect our patients to physical activity, which is just so powerful for physical, mental, and emotional health.
Well, I think there’s many. There’s the individual level. So working with the providers to make sure that the providers are engaged and excited and want to do it. And I think there’s early adopters, those who are excited to help promote physical activity. And then there’s the laggards are the people who take a long time to really adopt it. But it goes beyond individual choice. And it also is what is the clinic setting? Is the administration supporting it? Do they promoted? Do they have posters and other things set up? It’s not just on the nurse or the physician, It’s a whole team approach. And is the electronic health record systems The insurance? Are they connected well to outside?
So there’s just a whole host of challenges to overcome. And so it takes a whole team approach to make this happen.

Implementing exercise training requires an interdisciplinary team approach, from the check-in at hospitals to the referral to professionals in outpatient clinics, communities, or facilities that help them be more active.

Watch the video interview to get expert insights on properly implementing exercise training. In this interview, Dr. Mark Stoutenberg, Associate Professor at the Department of Kinesiology at Temple University in Philadelphia, talks about the major issues facing exercise implementation and the best strategies to overcome them.

After watching

Here are some points we’d like to highlight:

  • Integrating physical activity into health settings is challenging and requires careful planning and buy-in from health system leaders, administrative staff, and the entire clinic team.
  • Teams integrating physical activity into health systems should have a comprehensive evaluation plan ready and in place at the earliest stages.
  • When evaluating physical activity integration in health systems, consider using an implementation science lens that looks at processes, as well as outcomes.


The existing socioeconomic challenges, the ageing population and the associated increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, strongly support a high demand for the skills and competences of exercise professionals and Sports and Exercise Medicine specialists. It should be integrated by a specific training in the medical student curriculum and the specialisation of other physicians and healthcare/exercise professionals involved in the therapeutic application of exercise in medicine.

Which could be the role of Sports and Exercise Medicine specialists in the implementation of the therapeutic application of physical exercise in the healthcare system?

Share your answer in the Comments section!

Further readings

Neunhäuserer D, Niebauer J, Degano G et al. Sports and exercise medicine in Europe and the advances in the last decade. Br J Sports Med 2021 May 12;bjsports-2021-103983. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-103983.

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Exercise in Medicine: From Functional Evaluation to Adapted Exercise Training

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