Exercise Prescription

What is an Exercise Prescription?

Exercise has been touted as a way to enhance physical health, fitness, and wellness. Now, many physiotherapists have gone a step further, and are even prescribing exercise to their patients in much the same way a doctor would prescribe medicine. An exercise prescription is a basic plan or program of activity designed by professionals to enhance the well-being of a patient. It may also be called by the names exercise on prescription, exercise is medicine, green prescription, or exercise programming. Many doctors and physiotherapists believe exercise can benefit a host of debilitating diseases and conditions including:

  • Asthma
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Obesity

In addition to prescribing exercise, it is usually recommended that the client stops smoking, eats a healthier diet featuring more fruits and vegetables along with good fats, manages stress, and sets a target body weight as a long-term goal.

FITT Principles

An exercise prescription can take numerous forms, but they all have four things in common. They follow the FITT principles. FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time (duration), and type (mode). The frequency can refer to the number of exercise sessions per day or the number of exercise sessions per week. Intensity is the amount of effort the client exerts, measured as a percentage. Time is the length of each exercise session and is calculated in minutes. Type refers to which exercise. The gold standard for exercise prescriptions is considered to be moderate-level aerobic exercise. Resistance training involving weights can also be utilized, along with stretching.