Background With research demonstrating the benefit of exercise therapy in palliative care there is the need for exercise behaviours to continue ongoing in order to sustain the benefits long term. It is imperative hospices understand the palliative patient’s self-managed exercise behaviours once they have completed gym programmes in order to best facilitate a positive uptake. Research exploring these behaviours in healthy populations and in those with a non-palliative diagnosis have found there are internal and external barriers to active uptake of exercise. These include patient understanding, education, motivation, health status, previous exercise behaviours and access to appropriate facilities or equipment.
Aim To explore the effects that participation in a hospice gym-based exercise programme has on ongoing exercise habits.
Methods Qualitative study – focus group.
Results Findings demonstrated there was low uptake of ongoing exercise behaviours despite patients feeling the ability to stay independent gave meaning to their lives and identified exercise as a way of achieving this. Barriers included poor education on why ongoing exercise was important, poor motivation to do exercises at home, and practical issues such as access to transport and equipment. A pertinent finding was the patient’s belief that the hospice staff were the only ones who were capable of managing their needs compared to other services. Coming to the hospice filled a void in their life and they formed a strong bond with their local centre.
Conclusions There were similar findings for the barriers to ongoing exercise behaviours in palliative patients and those with a non-terminal diagnosis. However, there are added complexities with palliative patients and the bond they develop with their hospice which can hinder active uptake of exercise in the community. More research is needed to clarify findings and explore facilitators of self-managed exercise in this patient group.
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