Health, Midlife, Self Care

The E Word

What is the E word I am referring to?


This word invokes euphoria in some folks and others it sends into a pit of despair.

I evaluated a new patient with low back pain. She is an older woman who told me in the first 15 minutes of the assessment that she knows it is all her fault she is in the condition she is in because she has never exercised.


As I listened to this woman tell me her goals and dreams for what she wants to do the only path to those goals is to EXERCISE.

I knew I had to figure out quickly how to connect with this woman and make exercise cool for her.

I am so lucky (hear the sarcasm) that people think they know what Physical Therapy is going to do for them. They automatically believe they will get a list of exercises and the PT leaves and that’s it. (Sadly it is this way for some people).

I asked my patient, “Do you like to exercise?” Her reply, “No, but….I know I should.”

Ouch again!

When anyone “should’s” themselves nothing gets done in joy, actually nothing gets done. (I am speaking from personal experience on this one.)

I asked her, “How about we change the word exercise to move? Does move sound ok to you?” She paused, “Yes, I like the word move.” I instructed her from that point on we would use the word move, movement or moving.

A smile returned to her face.

Her homework for the the next few days were to explore all the different ways she could move her body that felt good. She had been in so much pain that she needed a change in perspective that she still could move parts of her body that did not hurt.

My first visit back, she went into explaining the guilt she felt by not doing the “exercises”. I reminded her that she was moving and not exercising.

She laughed and once again a huge smile returned to her face.

She is not 100% pain free yet. I don’t know if she is going to get there with all the complications she has. However, if I can help her move more by just one word change, that is success.

Exercise or Move? Which one makes you smile?