How to make your home exercise program a habit

2 Ways to Make Your Home Exercise Program a Habit

How much time do you want to spend in physical therapy?  Do you want to get better?  Do you strive to get stronger/faster/more flexible/more pain free?  

If so, you'll be happy to hear there is a way for you to reduce the time you have to spend in the PT clinic.  Being consistent with your home exercise program will improve the quality and speed of your recovery.

Home exercise programs may seem like an extra burden in your already busy life, but the truth is that being consistent with a prescribed home exercise program will greatly improve your results.   This is why physical therapists spend so much time creating appropriate home programs.  It is also why they keep asking if you are doing your homework.  

By the way, they know when you aren’t!

But home exercise programs can be time consuming or easily forgotten.  Research estimates that only 35% of patients are doing their home exercises while they are in therapy for treatment.  That number decreases when they are discharged.  If patients are not consistent with home exercise, they can lose all the results they worked so hard to gain while in physical therapy. 

Creating a home exercise habit will help you get better faster and maintain the gains you have made.

Here are 2 ways to help you form the daily home exercise routine habit.

1. Incorporate the exercises into your daily life.

One of the biggest reasons patients do not do their home exercise program is time.  There is an underlying assumption that a block of time needs to be carved out of every single day and set aside just to perform their program.  That is simply not true.  The most effective way to perform your exercises is to pair them with normal daily activities.  This will help you stay consistent with the program while you are being treated and beyond.   

Here is an example:

Prescribed home exercise program for Ima Gonnadothis:

                -  Seated hamstring stretch: 30 seconds for 3 repetitions every day.

                -  Squats: 15 squats every day.

                -  Seated knee extension: 20 extensions with 5 second hold every day.

                -  Single leg balance: Stand on one leg for 10 seconds for 5 repetitions every day.

Ima selects activities that she does every day:

                -  Sits on bed after waking up: Performs hamstring stretches before getting out of bed.

                -  Puts toast in toaster: Performs 15 squats while waiting for it to pop up.

                -  Watches the morning weather: Performs her knee extensions while she is sitting.

                -  Microwaves soup for lunch: Practicing standing on one leg.

You can see how easy it was for Ima to complete her entire program without having to spend extra time dedicated to exercising.  Your physical therapist is extremely creative and can help you figure out which activities may be most suitable for which exercise. 

2. Make exercises portable.

Another way you can make sure you are following through with your home exercise program is to look for ways to do them no matter where you are.  Challenge yourself to find unusual places to perform your program.  Exercises are not limited to your home or the PT clinic.  

What some ideas? Here you go:

- Use curb to stretch calves. You can also use walls, phone books, steps and basically anything that you can prop your foot up on.

- Walk sideways when in the grocery store.  Instead of turning your head to find items, you can practice your sidestepping and no one will be the wiser.

- Do neck stretches when stopped at a red light.  What else are you going to do?  Use this time to get a jump on your exercise program.

- Activate your abdominals while watching a movie.  Practice activating and holding your abdominal muscles while out with your family or friends enjoying a show.              

These are examples of how you can take your exercise program with you no matter where you go.  Some exercises may not be appropriate for you to do in public, but if you want to give it a try, ask your physical therapist if changes can be made to accommodate your lifestyle.


Home exercise programs are designed to help you recover faster and better.  Being consistent with your exercises will benefit you tremendously. 

Be creative and find time throughout the day to ensure that you are able to make the most improvements you can.  Your physical therapist will work with you to create a plan that makes sense for you and your recovery.   

Call 352-243-9341 and set up an appointment today if you want to talk to a physical therapist about what an appropriate home exercise program can do for you.