Holistic Workout—Nurse Combines Mind and Body Care Into One

| Jun 1, 1996

Not satisfied just working 40 hours a week in diabetes care, Eva Bradley, RN, BSN, CDE, designed a remarkable new exercise routine for people with diabetes in her spare time. The program, which Eva calls "Spiritualcise," combines the physical needs of self-care with the emotional needs of self-esteem.

"I try to get the whole mind and body focused on regular activity and feeling fit," says Eva.

Eva's program consists of basic, low-impact aerobics, uplifting gospel music, and diabetes education. Eva aims for a holistic workout, encouraging patients to get in shape while increasing their motivation.

Eva's patients do movements reminiscent of Tai Chi (a martial art consisting of slow, focused movements) while they analyze the lyrical content of uplifting gospel songs.

Blood sugars are measured before and after each workout. This allows patients to talk about fluctuations in blood glucose readings and what causes them.

"The emphasis is for patients to develop clear, realistic fitness goals that promote success," Eva explains in the March-April 1996 issue of Diabetes Educator. "Other important outcomes include increased self-esteem, positive self-image and increased motivation."

Eva came up with the idea three years ago when she realized her patients at Mt. Sinai in Cleveland, Ohio needed to focus more on exercise. She decided to try and work through an aerobic instruction manual but realized the exercises could not be done by some of the patients. So Eva began tailoring the exercises to specific patient needs.

"After being in diabetes education for over 20 years you get a sense of where you need to focus," Eva explains.

Trying to get her patients to exercise, Eva also noticed that many couldn't get past the mental barriers to participate. The patients needed something they could easily do, something that didn't require a lot of preparation. Because most people drop out of exercise programs, Eva knew she needed something special.

Eva needed something inspirational to add to the exercise, and contemporary gospel music seemed perfect.

"And so are WE! Let's explore the tools of that ability! Explore strengths and weaknesses, put the strengths and your ability into action," go the lyrics to God is Able, one of the songs Eva's patients analyze in her program.

Eva is currently working on a manual for other diabetes educators to help them implement a holistic exercise program. While Eva's current program focuses on gospel, she says any type of music will work provided it is uplifting with motivational lyrics.

One of Eva's favorite things about the program is that it can be done anywhere-in senior centers, at clinics, or at home. People can just stand up and do the exercises.

When she presents the program in 15-minute demonstrations, the patients are often both excited and pleased that they can follow it.

"I just told my doctor I couldn't exercise," said one particularly amazed man after a demonstration, "but that's not true."

"I think of it as 'step-right-off-the-street choreography,'" Eva says.

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