Exercise can be prescribed as a therapeutic intervention as with other treatments such as medication, because it produces measurable and predictable physiological changes that follow a clearly defined response curve and achieves long-term benefits.

For example, aerobic exercise will increase heart rate, cardiac output, respiratory rate and volume as well as delivery of glucose and fat stores to the body for use as energy. As the body is repeatedly exposed to this activity, the heart, lungs, muscles and other organs adapt giving vital health benefits. Your muscles and bones become stronger including your heart, your body becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells, tissues and organs. Your metabolic rate or the rate at which you burn energy is increased so you have an increased vitality, your sleep more soundly and think more clearly. Your joints, flexibility and balance improve giving stability, strength and ease of movement.

More specifically, the therapeutic benefits of exercise for certain medical conditions are outlined below.

Diabetes Weight reduction and improved glucose tolerance when combined with nutrition counselling
Stroke Improved walking ability, speed and mobility
Obesity Weight loss when combined with dietary advice
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome An improvement in function, increased energy and strength
Depression Improved self-esteem, confidence, energy and a “natural” high
Balance and fall prevention Increased strength, flexibility and balance as well as confidence with movement
Osteoporosis Increased bone density with strength training and aerobic exercise
Heart disease Aerobic exercise reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure, increases cardiac output and reduces morbidity and mortality

An exercise program designed by a university qualified Exercise Physiologist will provide specific exercises, duration, intensity and frequency according to the specific needs of the client. An assessment will be completed firstly to ascertain those needs. The assessment covers pre-existing medical/surgical conditions as well as any injury. A complete fitness assessment along with muscle strength, flexibility and balance as well as blood pressure and body fat. Your program should focus on behavioural change with a holistic approach according to the individual ability and needs of the client. Your exercise prescription is initially monitored on a weekly basis along with home-work until you are confident and positive improvements are seen. Your prescription is usually re-assessed every 4-6 weeks and modifications made as you gain strength, ability and gain wellness.

Exercise should be part of your daily lifestyle, what you don’t use you invariably lose and subject yourself to illness and injury. Make time now to exercise on a regular basis and promote your health before your doctor tells you your life depends on it.

Lauren Postans, Exercise Physiologist, Rothbury Heath & Lifestyle Connection at Physiologic.