🚴‍♀️ Exercise and Motivational Interviewing 🗣 in Rehab

April is an exciting month for Australians with consecutive public holidays, Easter, school holidays and Anzac day often meaning that many families will take time away and hit the road for a break. However, this poses a risk of faltering adherence to Rehab. To keep Rehab moving forward in this busy time we discuss a few favourite concepts.

Admittedly, as Exercise Physiologists we may be a little bias towards the importance of exercise in both general health maintenance/prevention and the rehab world. Although, our preference is not unfounded! I challenge you to find a condition that clinical exercise prescription does not assist! (You can contact me via email, Instagram, Facebook or Linked In!)

For general health and prevention, higher fitness is associated with less sick days from work as well as superior productivity[1] – something we all need to remind ourselves when prioritising other activities!

In the Rehab world, Return to Work and Return to Life, exercise is imperative. Not only does it strengthen the injured or diseased body part, it also decreases risk of the injury or disability reoccurring!! So, as Exercise Physiologists, we offer Conditioning Programs with a focus on getting individuals back to normal life (or as close as possible) through increasing the physical and mental capacity to tolerate life’s demands.

Motivational Interviewing
Motivational Interviewing (or MI) is a skill, but it is definitely not Mission Impossible… It has been around for at least 35 years but has increased in popularity over the last 10 years, becoming a big component of the Wellness Coaching world. I was fortunate to have this included within my degrees but those EP’s who weren’t so fortunate learn this via some well designed in-house training or they have a multitude of official and unofficial courses to choose from to gain this important skill.

We like to think that EP’s though often learn it innately… because you don’t get far with clients who aren’t ready to change. They need that “Specialised” support!

I have personally had numerous clients requiring our first few sessions to be focused on motivational interviewing, health education and goal setting. If I had started with a full exercise program, it would have been effective at supporting their exercise only by them running in the opposite direction.

Motivational Interviewing is used specifically to assist people’s behaviour change when they are unsure or sometimes even hostile to the idea [2]. In practise, it is a respectful conversation utilising particular techniques to support the client considering the benefits as well as owning the decision and the devised strategies to adhere to the change [3].

The conversation should empower them. (Because really, who likes being told what to do?).

But it’s not just Exercise Physiologists using MI. Rehab Providers, Rehab Counsellors, Case Managers and Occupational Therapists using MI all support the client’s recovery. Particularly if the support parties work as a team with consistent encouragement provided [4].

So over this fun period, remind your clients and customers to keep up the exercise, keep the reasons “why” they’re exercising in the forefront of their mind and feel free to let them know that you can reward yourself with a well earned break but rehabilitation doesn’t take a holiday…

Happy exercising

There are some slight differences practising MI in the Rehab world compared to Wellness Coaching – Stay tuned for our next blog to delve into MI deeper.





Biara Webster

Exercise Physiologist and Content Manager


[1] Proper (2006) Dose–response relation between physical activity and sick leave, Br J Sports Med, 2006 Feb 40(2): 173-178

[2] G.Latchford (2010), A Brief Guide to Motivational Interviewing, Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, St James’ University Hospital.


[4] From my experience 😉