The exercise presciption - Sports Medicine Doctor Malta - Dr Danica Bonello Spiteri

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The exercise presciption

The exercise prescription (First published on vida magazine on February 2013)

The doctor is often visited when illness strikes, and the doctor is expected to make all patients better by means of medicine. However, with our cars, we tend to take better care of them. We take them to the mechanic for a service and VRT to ensure they keep running smoothly. So why are we not taking adequate care of our bodies in the same manner? With a car, a battery can easily be changed. But a diseased heart or arteries cannot be changed that easily in humans!

Hence we need to start visiting doctors for our ‘servicing’. We often leave our doctor with a prescription in hand. This would tell us what medication to take, how frequently during the day and the amount of days this needs to be taken for.
An ‘exercise prescription’ is also issued in the same manner and is all about exercise advice, taking into consideration an individual’s illnesses and other health related matters. The exercise prescription makes use of the FITT principle.

: How often exercise must be undertaken during the week. For a healthy middle aged adult, the recommendation is on average 4-6 times per week.
I – Intensity: How hard or how easy the physical exertion needs to be in order for exercise to be most effective.  The intensity can be easy on certain days, with some moderate or hard exertion on other days.
T – Time: The duration of exercise. A general idea is about 30minutes, but the duration will also depend on the exercise intensity chosen. For hard intensity exercise, the duration is shorter, whilst for low intensity exercise, the duration can be longer.
T – Type: There are a multitude of different types of exercise and there is no one  ‘best type’ of exercise. The type is decided after discussing with the individual. The most important thing is that the individual enjoys the exercise prescribed, and has access to it. It is useless prescribing swimming to a person who does not know how to swim, or someone who does not have access to a pool!

The FITT principle can be applied for cardiovascular exercise, which involves exercise to improve the health of the heart. It can also be used for exercise that involves strengthening the musculoskeletal system, which involves strengthening the bones and muscles. Ideally both the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems are exercised for all round fitness.  

Once the exercise prescription is in hand, the next step is to set goals to work towards. How often has an exercise regime been initiated, only to lose interest within a few weeks or months, despite all the best intentions to stay on track? Sounds familiar? The SMART goals are needed to avoid this…..But more about this in the next issue! Stay Healthy!

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For direct contact or to book a consultation please  send an email on:

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