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How to Hook People on Exercise and Keep Them Engaged

Aug 07, 2017

I went to a great presentation at AADE17 titled “How to Hook People on Exercise and Keep Them Engaged,” presented by Dr. Len Kravitz, PhD, CSCS. Kravitz presented an evidence-based talk on how diabetes educators can help to make physical activity and exercise reasonable, effective and enjoyable for a person with diabetes. He reviewed the current guidelines for cardiovascular and resistance exercise for prediabetes and diabetes. But more importantly, he described how to help a person with diabetes exercise realistically and efficiently. Along the way, he had a few hundred of us moving and even dancing. 

Here are some of the key points from the presentation:

  • Adults/children spend ≥70% of our waking days at a desk, riding in a car, eating a meal, playing video games, working on a computer and watching TV (Hamilton MT et al, 2008)
  • There is great benefit from sitting less and moving more. For every 30 minutes of sitting, move for three minutes.
  • Suggest to stand up each time a person drinks water, during the opening of a TV segment, and walking while talking on the phone
  • Create a metabolic profile for the person you are working with, similar to a diet record, to determine time during the day spent sitting and standing/moving. Use this to encourage move active, and less sedentary, times.
  • Once a person increases active minutes, move toward formal exercise
  • When a person is doing well with exercise, increase intensity of the exercise initally (rather than the time)
  • Include cardiovascular and resistance training to maximize benefit
  • Utilize exercise adherence strategies including positive feedback; working with an exercise professional; varying the type of exercise; using support systems, goal setting, rewards, reinforcement, and safe equipment; scheduling exercise; having workout companions and working at appropriate intensity of exercise (not too hard initially)
  • Avoid dropout variables including lack of positive feedback, inconvenient time/location, social isolation, low enjoyment ratings and initial exercise intensity that is too high

At the end of the session, Kravitz led the group in a few minutes of dancing near our seats. The enjoyment of the activity was evident throughout the room and, as we were leaving the presentation, I heard lots of positive comments about how great the presentation was and how energized we felt. I look forward to applying some of the new ideas I learned in the presentation and expect many others will too.


Karen KemmisAbout the Author

Karen Kemmis is a physical therapist and certified diabetes educator, and also holds certifications in Pilates for rehabilitation and exercise for aging adults. She is based out of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY and splits her time between a Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate, an outpatient rehabilitation department, and a PT program where she is an adjunct professor.

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