There is a mountain of evidence - good, solid science, to show how effective exercise can be to help people recover from, or manage, long term conditions. It's now routine after a serious heart problem that people are referred for supervised exercise sessions to help them get back on their feet, and this is also now starting to be the case for people with cancer too. In fact there's now an emerging argument for so-called 'pre-hab' - exercising prior to treatment, in order to help that treatment to be more effective.
But how would training as rehab feel, compared to regular training?
For some, there's not much difference, but for most it's about the approach we take: it's perhaps a little gentler (at first) and might involve avoiding certain things that could exacerbate symptoms - for example working carefully if your balance has been affected, or if you have pain post-surgery. I often adapt training programmes to help people to overcome fatigue (slow and steady is the key here) and very frequently we're working on regaining specific muscular strength so that everyday activities, like climbing the stairs, start to feel easier.
For those who've been very active before, this can be a frustrating time as they want to get back to their old levels of fitness. Understandable. A rehab-based programme would aim to do that, but using a little savvy so that tiredness and injury don't come about as a result of a return to exercising.
Often though, it's just a matter of confidence, as people need to know what is safe, what will help, what will work, and it's here where a specialist trainer can really help. There's loads for us to get our teeth into with rehab, and it's one area where the job can be wondrously creative. As part of their rehab, I've helped people to dance, to play croquet, to learn to surf, to dig the garden and to use stairs without having to pull themselves up by the bannister. There's so much scope.
Increasingly, people are finding that, after a period of illness or injury, they're encouraged to exercise as part of their recovery. But where on earth do you start?