Preventing relapse

Relapse prevention training (Simkin and Gross, 1994) is an important component of the exercise consultation process for patients completing supervised exercise programmes. Relapse prevention training involves teaching individuals that a lapse from exercising (e.g. missing an exercise session) need not lead to a relapse (e.g. missing a week without exercising), and a lapse can be prevented from escalating into a complete relapse (e.g. return to a sedentary lifestyle).

Individuals should be encouraged to identify high-risk situations that may cause a lapse from activity, for example bad weather, increased work commitments or illness. These lapses can accumulate and may lead to a return to a sedentary lifestyle. Developing a plan to cope with these risky situations can reduce the likelihood of a lapse in activity and an overall decline in physical activity, for example, having an alternative indoor activity in bad weather, or rescheduling an activity session or engaging in a shorter bout of activity in order to meet increased work commitments.

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