Super-Glued to Exercise: Super Results
If sticking with exercise were easy, more people with chronic low back pain would probably do it, and most would reap the positive benefits. Participants in a recent study kept doing their exercises long after finishing a four- to eight-week period of intensive physical therapy. They actually did exercises more frequently at three months than they did when first evaluated. And they exercised even more by the twelfth month.
Their efforts paid off. People reported having less pain and being able to do more activities. They also showed more strength and flexibility. Their muscles performed better, and they were able to lift more. These scores improved by the third month, and the results were even better a year later.
Here are some of the reasons why more people kept up with their exercises. First, to be part of the study, participants had to make progress with their exercises during their treatment sessions. Second, by taking on the responsibility of working the settings on the exercise equipment, they became independent in doing the exercises. People are more likely to stick with exercises when they feel self-sufficient and don't feel passive while doing their program. Third, the doctors and physical therapists instilled confidence by giving lots of positive feedback and showing support, even when people felt some pain during their exercises. Patients were encouraged to do all their exercises and to go about their activities, even when they were having pain. The ones who did reported having less pain overall and were having an easier time doing their activities.
The authors conclude that people who have chronic low back pain can do regular exercises, and those who do can achieve the benefits of sticking with them.
Carol Hartigan, et al. Long-Term Exercise Adherence After Intensive Rehabilitation for Chronic Low Back Pain. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. March 2000. Vol. 32. No. 3. Pp. 551-557.