Self-determination strategies for doctors who want to inspire their patients to exercise regularly How can doctors successfully encourage their stubbornly sedentary, obese patients to want to engage in adequate levels of exercise? And once they do begin exercising, how can doctors foster a more permanent tendency to keep exercising?

Patients like these have been given the facts about their current inadequate conditions, but they just do not follow recommendations to exercise or their attempts are only temporary. If given the right kind of autonomy support that appeals to their intrinsic needs for elf-governance, relatedness, and competency as assumed in psychology Self- Determination Theory, these patients are more likely to develop the desire to exercise regularly (Deformed, Hearers, & De Readjusting, 2011).

As some of the most accessible of all health professionals, doctors are well positioned to successfully apply the ideas from Self-Determination Theory with the intention of inspiring the desire to exercise, and keep exercising, by interacting with their patients in ways that make them feel as though they are they are making a choice, by serving as role oodles and implementing goal tracking systems. The simplest way to begin promoting self-motivation in patients is to use intentional language that allows for options.

During clinical consultations, motivation is more likely to occur when patients are directed in ways that make them feel as though they are choosing to exercise, how they will exercise and when to exercise (Deformed et al. , 2011). Moreover, phrasing recommendations with words like can and may rather than should and must (Deformed et al. , 2011) are easy, communicative nuances that support needs for self-governance. However, it is important to steer patients toward choosing activities they find enjoyable, yet are able to execute successfully (Deformed et al. 2011). In so doing, intrinsic needs for competency are maintained. When doctors exemplify fitness, their recommendations are validated, increasing the likelihood that patients will adhere to their directives (Elder 2013; Bannered, 2012). According to Feline Lobe, M. D. , Ph. D. , in a report on the American College of Sports Medicine website (n. D. ), “patients find an active, healthy doctor’s advice more credible ND motivating. ” Dry. Lobe is not the only health professional to recognize this tendency; Dry. Ben Fisher also clearly understands this idea.

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By having established a unique program in which he exercises alongside patients once a week (Elder, 2013), Fisher ensures his patients see how he stays fit. During workouts, Dry. Fisher will sometimes appropriately nudge his patients to increase their efforts and will encourage them to work out again, on their own, during the week (Elder, 2013). His patients are responding well to this type of interaction which appeals to their intrinsic needs for relatedness. In order to foster permanent exercise habits, doctors positive changes.

Studies have indicated that regular exercise habits are more likely to ensue when progress is measured (Costner, 2008) in both physical and emotional aspects. A well-designed Journaling workbook could be used to track and review improvements in these aspects. Once patients have begun their chosen exercise path, they can use the workbook to track measurable physical changes in their health markers, stamina and other new abilities. Ideally, the Journal should also include surveys to rate emotional aspects including the level of enjoyment derived from exercise, a general sense of well being, energy levels, moods, and mental clarity.

The ability to review and analyze noted progress from a Journal, boosts motivation, but also patients can use the data to decide how to adjust their plans in ways that meet their intrinsic interests while serving both their needs for self-governance and competence (Costner, 2008). By skipping this crucial step, patients are more likely to experience failure in maintaining long term exercise habits (Costner, 2008) so efforts o implement tracking systems are imperative.

Doctors can become catalysts for exercise inspiration by applying strategies that support their patients’ intrinsic needs for self-governance, relatedness and competence when they present options, serve as role models and offer a well designed Journaling workbook for patients to use to monitor their progress (Deformed et al. , 2011). It would be advisable for doctors to understand Self-Determination Theory and consider seeking out the guidance of a psychologist to better apply these strategies in clinical settings.


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