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  • Writer's pictureChris Yancey

Exercise is a Prescription

Consider Exercise a Prescription!

Exercise has been proven to be beneficial in treating many diagnoses. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides exercise “prescriptions” for a multitude of diagnoses, including those commonly seen in the senior population such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and low back pain to name a few. We also know that exercise can be more beneficial to treating depression than a pill! The challenge is getting a depressed person to exercise at the level necessary to produce clinically significant results.

As a physical therapist, I noticed my patients were compliant with their medications but seldom compliant with their home exercise program (HEP). I would always explain to them the benefits of exercise, but the majority of seniors did not follow up with their home exercises unless they had been a habitual exerciser their entire life.

I did a little experiment (that was not documented). I talked to them about considering their exercises an additional prescription for their health, and I changed HEP to stand for home exercise PRESCRIPTION. I encouraged them to take a small scrap of colored paper, ball it up, drop it in their pill box (in the morning and afternoon compartment), and “take their exercises” as they would take their pills. (Interestingly enough, a lot of seniors even use the phrase “taking my exercise” instead of “doing my exercises” when talking about receiving therapy!) My patients that used the paper method found it to be a beneficial reminder and were more likely to follow their home exercise prescription, along with taking their prescribed medications. Their home exercise prescription may have been to transfer sit to stand ten times; rest and repeat. Set your timer on your microwave for 10 minutes and walk laps in your house. Or whatever was appropriate for their condition at the time. Compliance improved!

My recommendation is to see a physical therapist or discuss with your doctor what exercises can improve your overall health and consider them a prescription! The list of negative side-effects with exercise is short! You may experience post-exercise soreness but that isn’t so bad, in my humble opinion!

PRO TIP: repeating your exercises the following day (day 2) will DECREASE soreness the next day (day 3)! If you do NOT exercise (day 2), you will likely be more sore day (day 3). Also, be sure to stay hydrated!

Enabling seniors to age in place with dignity and grace.



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