If you are unwell, you often come out with a medical prescription after a visit to your doctor. You might even get a piece of general advice from your doctor to exercise regularly. However, when you receive a detailed exercise plan tailored to your specific situation to address a specific health issue, we call that an exercise prescription.
Exercise prescription is a fairly new term that is gaining popularity in health spaces. Increasingly more people with conditions such as diabetes, obesity, depression, cancer, heart ailments and osteoarthritis are receiving exercise prescriptions from their doctors. Exercise prescriptions are also developed by fitness and rehabilitation experts for clients or patients. Generally, most exercise prescriptions will include the following;
- The type of activities to engage in, for instance, walking, jogging, cycling etc.
- Specific workloads such as walking or jogging speed
- Targets, e.g., heart rate
- Duration and exercise frequency
- Precautions to be taken.
Developing a lifestyle of physical activity has many benefits. Findings from several studies have linked physical activity to health and longevity. Below are some factors that have made exercise prescription gain popularity.
The percentage of adults in America with one chronic disease is 60%. In contrast, 40% have more than two chronic conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Cumulatively, chronic diseases are the leading cause of death in America. Persons with chronic diseases could benefit immensely from physical exercise by helping them cope with symptoms and improve their health. Besides, health experts advise that exercise is one of the major ways to lower the risk of developing a chronic disease.
Risk factors for developing chronic diseases such as persistent inflammation, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure are all impacted by physical activity. A moderate exercise regimen can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, thus preventing more serious conditions like a heart attack or stroke. Strength training helps us build muscle and healthy joints, reducing joint pain in people with arthritis. Healthy bones and muscle strength also reduce the risk of falls, especially among the elderly.
Diabetes patients also benefit from physical exercise as it helps them control glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity and lose weight. Obesity is another chronic condition affecting an increasing number of children and adults globally. Physical exercise is important in reversing obesity and its associated effects, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and other diseases.
Benefits the Elderly
According to a study published in March 2017 in the cell metabolism journal, intense aerobic exercise can help the elderly by reversing aging at the cellular level. The study found that high-intensity aerobic exercises improve a person’s lung function and mitochondrial activity in the skeletal muscles.
Older people have a declining mitochondrial function, which leads to muscle loss and wasting. It is, therefore, important that the elderly maintain some level of physical activity which makes exercise prescription necessary.
Stress and Depression
Depression is rising and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Depression is usually treated using antidepressants and therapy. When depressed or stressed, the last thing on your mind is exercise. However, more people and health practitioners are incorporating physical exercise in treating depression. Physical activity can help improve your mood and ease stress and depression. Exercise removes your focus from stressors and keeps your mind from depressive thoughts.
A structured exercise program will help your body release endorphins, which are feel-good brain chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Physical activity also makes you go outside and interact with others, reducing stress and depression.
Research on the effects of exercise among pregnant women continues to show accrued benefits for both mother and child. Physical exercise improves cardiovascular function and limits weight gain and retention of fat among pregnant women leading to easier labor and quicker post-birth recovery.
A study of pregnant Hispanic women found that physical activity in early pregnancy lowers the risk of gestational hypertension. The fetus also benefits by handling stress better and experiencing better neurobehavioral maturation. Expectant mothers are encouraged to maintain a physical exercise prescription during their pregnancy.
In the practice of medicine, only an evidence-based treatment protocol is prescribed. New research has shown there is a place for physical exercise just like other medical treatments due to its positive effects. The accumulated knowledge on the importance of exercise is not in doubt, and more health providers are prescribing exercise to treat various ailments. Moreover, the populace is being encouraged to have a physically active lifestyle to prevent chronic diseases, which are increasingly responsible for most deaths in our world today.