Are there guidelines or resources to develop virtual exercise groups

Posted on June 16, 2020 by Madalon Burnett

Summary

There are no specific resources or guidelines to help practitioners set up a virtual exercise group. There are several studies that have shown effective ways to implement a virtual exercise group. There are some resources for group leaders and for patients to help maintain an exercise or rehabilitation program virtually. 

I.   Evidence of Efficacy for Virtual Groups

  • A study prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outlines a method for delivering a virtual exercise program for COPD patients. This program used an application with functionality for a virtual peer group, a digital exercise diary, a follow-along exercise video, and visual rewards on the home screen wallpaper. Patients reported that this method was user friendly and that it motivated them to exercise more. (1)
  • A study also showed that a virtual exercise group was a safe, effective, and economical solution for cardiac rehabilitation. The group used a website to deliver patient education, facilitate one-on-one chats with experts, a peer support group, and group chats with an expert (2)
  • Being a part of a virtual exercise group motivated elderly patients to perform balance and strength exercises using an app called Active Lifestyle (3)

II.   Tips for Starting a New Group

  • In a blog by a exercise support group leader in Australia, there are suggestions for staying connected over COVID-19. These suggestions are more focussed towards groups that already exist, but could be adapted for new exercise groups.(4)
    • Discuss with the group prior to starting out online what the guidelines and values are for sharing information with the group.
      • Does the group want to share their personal information with each other? 
      • Does the group wish to share information about their level of fitness, adaptations they need for participating in activities, and what type of activity they prefer?
      • Is there a  preferred way of organizing information so that it is easy to find using hashtags or folders?
    • Use Facebook or other social media sites to keep the group connected.
    • Leaders can call members individually, or members can meet using apps such as GoToMeeting or Zoom.
    • Use the tools listed above to share resources for staying active such as online workout videos and encourage the group to talk about how people are coping with COVID-19 and how they could be better supported. 
  • The Heart and Stroke foundation offers and online webinar that can help patients do cardiac rehabilitation programs virtually during COVID-19 (5)
  • The University of Ottawa offers a virtual care program that includes a train-the-trainer approach for providers that want to participate (6)
  • Stroke Recovery BC offers an excellent website to organize their recovery programs – this type of virtual programming could be a good example for new exercise groups (7)

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association offers guidelines for tele-rehabilitation on their website for individual patients (8). The College of Physiotherapists of BC offers recommendations on what to consider for starting tele-rehabilitation.  (9)

Questions? Comments? Does this need to be updated? Do you have valuable points to add ? Please email ask.reakt@ubc.ca.

References

  1. Burkow TM, Vognild LK, Johnsen E, Bratvold A, Risberg MJ. Promoting exercise training and physical activity in daily life: a feasibility study of a virtual group intervention for behaviour change in COPD. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making [Internet]. 2018 Dec [cited 2020 Jun 13];18(1). Available from: https://bmcmedinformdecismak.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12911-018-0721-8
  2. The Use of the Internet to Deliver Cardiac Rehabilitation Remotely to Patients with Cardiovascular Disease | Canada Health Infoway [Internet]. Infoway-inforoute.ca. 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 16]. Available from: https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/component/edocman/resources/reports/benefits-evaluation/2111-the-use-of-the-internet-to-deliver-cardiac-rehabilitation-remotely-to-patients-with-cardiovascular-disease
  3. Europe PMC. Europe PMC [Internet]. Europepmc.org. 2019 [cited 2020 Jun 17]. Available from: https://europepmc.org/article/med/23273420
  4. ‌Ainley R. My Arthritis Support Group Can’t Meet in Person Right Now, So Here’s How We’re Adjusting for Coronavirus Quarantine [Internet]. CreakyJoints. 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 13]. Available from: https://creakyjoints.org/living-with-arthritis/coronavirus/patient-perspectives/chronic-illness-peer-support-groups-during-coronavirus/
  5. Cardiac rehab during COVID 19 [Internet]. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 16]. Available from: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/what-we-do/webinars/cardiac-rehab-during-covid-19
  6. ‌Virtual Care Program | University of Ottawa Heart Institute | Prevention & Wellness Centre [Internet]. Ottawaheart.ca. 2017 [cited 2020 Jun 16]. Available from: http://pwc.ottawaheart.ca/programs-services/virtual-care
  7. ‌RecoveryAdmin. Stroke Recovery Branch Programs – Stroke Recovery Association of BC [Internet]. Stroke Recovery Association of BC. 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 17]. Available from: https://strokerecoverybc.ca/programs-locations/virtual-programs/#zoom
  8. ‌Tele-Rehabilitation in Times of COVID-19 | Canadian Physiotherapy Association [Internet]. Physiotherapy.ca. 2019 [cited 2020 Jun 17]. Available from: https://physiotherapy.ca/times-covid-19
  9. ‌Tele-Rehabilitation – CPTBC – College of Physical Therapists of British Columbia [Internet]. Cptbc.org. 2020 [cited 2020 Jun 17]. Available from: https://cptbc.org/physical-therapists/practice-resources/advice-to-consider/tele-rehabilitation/

Disclaimer

The above is intended to serve as a rapidly-created, accessible source of information curated by medical students and healthcare professionals. It is for educational purposes only and is not a complete reference resource. It is not professional medical advice, and is not a substitute for the discretion, judgment, and duties of healthcare professionals. You are solely responsible for evaluating the information above.