Jim Miastkowski: Role of Fitness, Wellness Programs in Special Population Care

Wellness trainers educate patients on how to begin exercise programs and then track progression and results of patients to aid in rehabilitation process.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Jim MIastkowski, MSc, HackensackUMC Fitness & Wellness Center, discussed his work in the exercise science space, particularly working with adult patients in their rehabilitation process following surgical procedures.

Miastkowski is a 30-year veteran of the fitness industry. As the manager of the Fitness & Wellness Center, his work focuses on different special populations including cardiac, cancer, diabetic, and bariatric patients, with specificity on older demographics.

He discussed the process of the fitness center with the example of a bariatric patient who are undergoing surgery, establishing a baseline before the procedure and then the exercise process following the treatment.

“For most individuals, after they've gone through the process, we see them post rehab, usually six to eight weeks, depending on the physician's recommendations, and then we educate them on how to begin an exercise program, after they've gone through the process of the surgery,” Miastkowski said.

The process is a baseline cardiovascular program with a wellness trainer, with exercises in walking, cycling, treadmill and followed by resistance training with resistance bands.

“The advantage of working with a wellness trainer is they can progress them accordingly as you are progressing with the conditioning of their results,” Miastkowski said. “So, we can titrate the tolerance, they can do more, we give them more exercises, both cardiovascular and resistance space.”

He observed that the COVID-19 pandemic led to a loss in camaraderie between patients who may share stories during the group recovery process, but a one-on-one interaction may actually lead to quicker progression in a patient.

Miastkowski noted that patients may not always feel great during the rehabilitation process, but the rewards of exercising are always better than nothing, in terms of meeting their fitness goals.

“Just get here, move your body, and establish that habit, because it's so easy not to do this,” Miastkowski said. “But, once most people feel the benefits of exercise, they see the importance of it, and they continue to progress through that process.”