Start Moving Again

It's very important for everyone with chronic pain to be physically active, at a level they can manage. Building a program of paced, practiced and increasing activity is the key to returning to function.

Tips for Starting Paced Activity

Here are a few tips to help you start your pacing program:

  • Choose one activity and start with that. Once you get the hang of pacing you can apply it to many other different activities.
  • Choose an activity that you enjoy or really want to do.
  • Set yourself up for success by keeping your first activity simple, for example walking. Activities that do not need a lot of planning, coordination, equipment, travel etc. make it more likely that you will want to start and then keep going.
  • Choose a gentler, low impact activity to start with (depending on your type of pain, current function and level of fitness), such as walking, swimming, cycling, gentle youth yoga or pilates.
  • If there’s an activity that you really want to do, but you think it will be too much for you right now, try to think of ways you could still participate. Be creative! You might need to modify certain movements or take more frequent breaks. A physiotherapist or kinesiologist can help.
  • Set SMART goals to help build your program for paced, practiced and increasing activity. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
  • Break goals down into smaller, more achievable goals. You will have more success, more quickly than if you only set a giant goal that is well beyond your current function. For example, if you want to return to playing soccer, instead of setting a goal to return to team practice right away, you could set a realistic goal for improving your cardiovascular fitness and endurance through a walk program that leads up to running.

Keeping the Momentum Going

  • Things don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes setbacks happen, but that’s OK. You can minimize their impact by thinking ahead and planning how you will deal with them. If you build them into your plan, they are easier to overcome and you’ll be able to keep moving forward.
  • Keeping a record of your activity can help you see how far you’ve come and where you expect to go.
  • Check in with yourself and your physiotherapist, personal trainer and or healthcare team regularly. They can help you evaluate your progress and adjust your pacing plan so it is in line with your goals and needs.

Helpful Resources


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This video will enable people with chronic pain access to a self-management tool that will help them manage the impacts of chronic pain on their functioning, emotions and interpersonal relationships and will help in the adherence to pain management plans.