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The Importance of Home Exercise Compliance

by Clinton Boone, PT, DPT, CMTPT/DN6 Comments

Home exercises are usually given to patients at their first physical therapy visit and updated throughout the course of care. They are provided to reinforce what is completed during each visit and to eventually support the transition to independent management of the condition. Throughout the course of treatment, these exercises are checked frequently by the therapist for proper form and progression.

What is important to note, however, is that home exercises require compliance from the patient away from physical therapy. While some patients may not be familiar with exercising at home, others have very busy lives and struggle to find even a few free minutes. Nevertheless, home exercises are the foundation of an overall successful physical therapy program.

There are numerous benefits for patients to regularly complete the home exercise program prescribed by their physical therapist, including:

You can achieve more at physical therapy sessions.

  • Working on the foundational exercises at home, allows a greater opportunity to dive into more advanced therapeutic exercises, manual therapy techniques, etc., during a physical therapy session.
  • Home exercises can improve a patient’s muscle memory, especially when it comes to new exercises.

You may be able to regain function sooner and relieve pain quicker.

  • Patients that regularly perform their home exercises are likely able to achieve more during their duration of physical therapy treatment.
  • Regular home exercise compliance can help stave off potential “setbacks” during the course of care.

A home exercise program is sometimes the beginning of a new active lifestyle.

  • In my experience as a physical therapist, I have noticed patients that were seldom active prior to beginning physical therapy experience the first-hand benefits of exercise, which leaves them wanting to continue an active lifestyle after discharge. Additionally, after seeing how easy it is to incorporate exercises at home, some patients want to learn new exercises they can perform at home or a gym.

Home exercises continued after discharge may help avoid reoccurrence of the condition.

  • After a successful round of physical therapy, a patient may end up returning months or years later with similar complaints. In these instances, the patient may have abandoned their home exercises. Maintaining compliance with a home exercise program can help keep the original problem at bay.

Home exercises can lead to permanent, positive habits.

  • For example, an exercise that is performed to improve posture may eventually become second-nature for a patient. In turn, the patient will have improved posture from simply performing their home exercises.

Home exercises may feel uncomfortable, especially if the exercises are new. However, patients should feel confident that their therapist will ensure they are using proper form before sending them home with an exercise program. That said, it is important to keep in mind that the exercises should not be painful. If there are ever questions about the home exercise program, patients should not hesitate to talk to their physical therapist. He or she can tailor the exercises around each patient’s individual needs or concerns to ensure success.

As stated before, home exercises are the cornerstone of a successful physical therapy program.  Home exercises can reduce the likelihood of setbacks in physical therapy and can sometimes be the beginning of a brand new active lifestyle. Ultimately, home exercises can help patients make the most of their time at physical therapy and beyond.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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Clinton Boone is a physical therapist who enjoys treating various orthopedic conditions and vestibular disorders. Clint enjoys spending time with family, lifting weights, and running in his spare time – having just completed the Chicago Marathon in 2022. Clint works and lives in Manhattan, IL, and loves treating members of his local community. He can be reached at if you have any questions or comments.

Read more health resources related to these topics:

Physical Therapyat-home exerciseshome exercisesphysical therapy at homePT at home


  1. Sherry Gajos

    I liked what you said about how working on foundational exercises at home will allow you to dive into more advanced therapeutic exercises during therapy. My friend just got into a car accident and will be doing physical therapy at home to help her recover, so I want to do what I can to support her. Thank you for the information about how supporting her in the home exercises will help improve her muscle memory.

  2. Valeria Hopson

    This journey that I’m on has been two years exactly next month. I had surgery in July for this problem. It has been a process for me. I’m having some issues after the surgery that I was not before the surgery. Though frustrating I have experienced that the PT is making an impact. I’m working at home because it is vital for me to perform at my optimal.

  3. Marilyn

    You are such a joy to work with. I so appreciate your professionalism and caring demeanor. You’ve given me hope that PT will help me avoid surgery for my condition. (Fingers crossed.) 🙂

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