Could Clinical Exercise Get You Back in the Game?

Exercise is such an important part of overall health and well-being. But what happens if you have a health condition that makes it harder to workout?

Seth Sorkin, certified exercise physiologist at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, said that’s where clinical exercise comes in.

“With clinical exercise, the approach tends to focus on the conditions that hinder the patient from exercise and lifestyle capabilities, and how that patient can safely and effectively overcome those hindrances to achieve their goals,” he said.

With a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and an exercise physiologist certification, Sorkin provides a level of customized training not often found at fitness clubs. Patients referred by their doctor to the Script4Fitness or Bridge to Fitness programs may have recently completed cardiac rehab, physical therapy or may need to prepare for bariatric or orthopaedic surgery.

While Script4Fitness is a more individual approach, the Bridge to Fitness program is more of a group format with others who have the same condition. “They all meet together; they all exercise together,” said Sorkin. “It’s nice to work with people who have had the same experiences as you.”

Both programs, however, start with a personalized approach.

“The first thing we do is an assessment,” Sorkin explained. “We see where they’re at in terms of physical abilities, body composition, aerobic fitness, muscular fitness. I take the results from that assessment and I build it into a program that’s going to work best for them.”

Sorkin also helps identify other services, such as nutrition and mental health counseling, that may be needed as well. A final assessment and check-ins along the way help determine if people are seeing improvements in their condition.

“Every population is going to see their own unique benefits,” said Sorkin.

Those with diabetes may see better glucose regulation and lower body weight; cardiac rehab patients may see better exercise tolerance and lower blood pressure; and orthopaedic patients may see an increase in strength and mobility. Plus, all patients build healthy exercise habits.

“Not only am I trying to improve their condition, but I’m trying to make them regular exercisers and just practice overall lifestyle healthy habits,” said Sorkin.

The programs also help make sure that people don’t do too much too soon.

“People sometimes start out too intense right away because they want to see results as soon as possible,” said Sorkin. “The problem with this is two-fold. A: You increase the risk of injury and other overuse issues. B: When you start out so intense, it almost has the opposite effect and you just lose the motivation. It’s just a downhill slope from there.”

Instead, Sorkin recommends a slow and steady approach that celebrates small successes.

“Along the way you have to set smaller goals,” said Sorkin. “When you do that you’re more motivated in the next goal and that’s going to help you meet your overall goals.”

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