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Is activity intolerance giving your patient a hard time?

Many different factors can cause activity intolerance, such as physical de-conditioning or pain.

Also, cognitive changes also affect a patient’s ability to make decisions about what to do on a daily basis.

By assessing a one’s ability and designing a thoughtful care plan, nurses can help their patients return back to independence.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about an activity intolerance nursing diagnosis for your patients.

What Is Activity Intolerance?

Activity Intolerance is defined as “insufficient physiological or psychological energy to support or supplement the required or desired daily activities.”

As people get older, they lose muscle. That leads to laziness and lethargy.

This is more common in people who have had problems with their heart or their bones before.

When these people do something that takes a lot of energy, like walk for a long time, it can be difficult for them because they are tired all the time.

Activity intolerance is one of the more significant problems that these people face because it’s very difficult for them to do their daily activities without becoming tired quickly.

It doesn’t help matters when an individual has been dealing with chronic diseases, since this only further worsens the problem by causing muscles not work optimally.

People generally become weaker over time and are less able to complete these tasks.

In addition, activity intolerance is often mixed with fatigue. Fatigue is a draining feeling that can’t be fixed by resting.

Causes of Activity Intolerance:

Lack of sleep can lead to activity intolerance, which is why it’s important for patients and their loved ones know how much rest they need.

Observing daily routines will help patients determine the number of hours per night that are needed in order to stay healthy and independent.

Common causes of activity intolerance include:

  • Anemia
  • Malnourishment
  • Medications
  • Obesity
  • Long bed rests
  • Improper oxygen supply
  • Less sleep
  • Extreme Depression
  • Serious Pain
  • Critical Stress
  • High metabolic demands

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Symptoms of Activity Intolerance:

For some people, simply walking a few blocks can be exhausting and tiring. This is because their bodies are not as equipped to handle the strain of everyday activities like they should be.

It’s clear that these individuals have an intolerance for activity levels which would typically seem normal for most other peopl.

At first glance, there appears to be several signs or symptoms associated with activity intolerance such as early fatigue, dizziness, and/or weakness.

Other symptoms of activity intolerance include:

  • Unusual discomfort / Dyspnea during activity
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Incapacity to perform normal operations
  • Signs of fatigue, dizziness, and weakness
  • Lack of sleep and motivation
  • An abundance of depression and pain
  • Enfeeble pulse, dizziness, and reduction in breath

Symptoms of Activity Intolerance:

Objectives Of A Successful Care Plan

Patients with chronic illnesses like activity intolerance can face a difficult time figuring out what they need in order to live life easier.

They often rely on their care plan, which provides them the necessary tools when it comes to restoring their ability to perform regular activities again.

This make life more manageable for these patients.

A successful care plan for activity intolerance means that:

  • The patient is capable of providing a constructive verbal reaction in reply to activity level
  • The patient is capable of showing and using productive energy management
  • The patient is capable of performing primary activities without lacking energy
  • The patient is capable of displaying bodily improvements
  • The patient is capable of maintaining well organized cardiovascular and respiratory functions

For any care plan to be deemed successful, it needs some sort of standard or goal.

More often than not, this includes an increase in productivity and efficiency through task delegation.

Activity Intolerance Interventions

With so many approaches to activity intolerance, the most popular is typically intervention.

This condition can be managed by a patient alone or with help from medical professionals.

To help those who are struggling with activity intolerance, it’s important to understand what the problem may be and how they can combat this.

Understanding that there could be various types of interventions will allow patients to find a solution better suited for their needs.

The types of interventions that may help patient dealing with activity intolerance include:

  • Begin a regular exercise routine, but make sure the muscles don’t stretch and it should power the cardiovascular system
  • Pay attention to patient recovery speed from time to time and make sure he/she is making good progress
  • Stimulate regular rest periods between exercise drills
  • Do not waste energy in irrelevant activities and save it for productive activities
  • Help patient with designing and arranging activities
  • Start a diet plan and eating habits for the patient
  • Minimize cardiovascular activity through proper exercises
  • Retain a gradual progression of activities to enhance performance
  • Make good breathing habits to increase cardiovascular functions and decrease stress levels

Nursing Interventions for Activity Intolerance

Ongoing assessments are key to identifying potential problems and ensuring that the needs of patients with activity intolerance can be met.

This allows nurses or doctors to identify any issues before they have time grow into more serious ones.

The process starts by monitoring a patient’s responses, which will give clues as to what should be assessed next in order for a full assessment of this individual’s condition.

In order to conduct a proper assessment for activity intolerance, follow these steps:

  • Create instructions and objectives of activity with a patient
  • Assess the need for extra help at home
  • Is patient acting rather slowly or in a long time with breaks?
  • Step by step increase the activity of sitting and standing
  • Hang legs on the bedside daily for at least ten minutes
  • Don’t do any un-necessary action
  • Help with activities of daily living in avoiding patient dependency
  • Make sure there is crapper near to the patient
  • Motivate the patient for physical activities according to the patient’s energy levels
  • Plan activities in times when the patient has the maximum energy level
  • Inspire verbalization of feelings
  • Stimulate range of motion exercises also make sure patient is taking part in planning activities
  • Give psychological help and positive behavior towards his/her abilities
  • Provide the patient with the most comfortable equipment to use
  • Educate the patient in recognizing signs of physical overactivity

Improve Patient Activities By Using:

  • Sitting and standing exercises
  • Deep breathing exercises daily at least three times
  • Sitting up in chair exercises for at least thirty minutes a day
  • Walking indoors for at least one minute a day
  • Strolling through the house to walk outdoors

Educate Your Patient About How To:

  • Do tasks while sitting
  • Change in positions frequently
  • Push instead of pulling
  • Slide instead of lifting
  • Work at steady speed
  • Place most commonly used things closer to bed
  • Relax for one hour at least before the new activity starts
  • Organize a work and rest plan

Nursing Interventions for Activity Intolerance:

Goals and Outcomes of Activity Intolerance Nursing Care Plan

The goal of a proper care plan is to help the patient perform regular activities without experiencing any symptoms.

Following are the goals and outcomes of the activity intolerance nursing diagnose care plan:

  • The patient will know about the aspects which will aggravate activity intolerance
  • The patient will describe the capability to show activities of daily living
  • The patient will use energy-conservation methods
  • The patient will know about techniques of reduction in activity intolerance
  • The patient will sustain blood pressure in lower time after activity
  • The patient will show tolerance during physical activity


An activity intolerance diagnosis is one that warrants a comprehensive treatment plan.

There are several interventions to help manage the symptoms and ensure an individual has a longer, healthier life.

The care team should work closely with both the patient and their family members in order to develop a personalized program for each person’s needs.

We’d love to hear from you! What strategies have worked best for you and your patients? How do they feel about living with this condition? Let us know below by leaving a comment!

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