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Progressing Programs

How to progress physical activity and track progress

An individualized physical activity program will include specific activities for specific impairments or limitations. A goal-based physical activity program addressed at improving function and decreasing disability is important for compliance.

Use an "activity log" (download PDF here) to track progress by noting the specific activity performed, as well as the intensity and duration of each activity. This chart is used to document progress toward goals and to show the healthcare provider on follow-up visits. Use either a monthly or weekly chart (below) to track progress.

Once the physical activity program has been established (including exercise prescription & goals), individuals must learn how to progress the activities. The following progressions are defined:
    Frequency: The number of times per week
    Duration: The length or number of the activities/exercises (time, sets, repetitions)
    Intensity: The level of the activity (noted by resistance or Rating of Perceived Exertion)

Progression is the key to improving fitness. Progression simply involves increasing the duration or intensity of an activity toward individual goals.

How to keep patients motivated & improve compliance

  • An individualized program focused on specific goals is key
  • Once goals are attained, set new goals important to the individual
  • Encourage patients to reward themselves for reaching the first goal
  • Moderation is key; start gradually with enjoyable activities and progress slowly
  • Emphasize lifestyle changes, incorporating activity into daily life
  • Establish regular workouts (same time of day)
  • Keep focused on short-term and long-term goals
  • Maintain activity logs to record achievements
  • Follow-ups (re-testing) with individuals encourage compliance (mail, email, phone or personal)
  • Exercising with a partner or in groups helps improve compliance
  • Family and friend support is crucial for encouragement


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