When developing a fitness program or exercise prescription, we must consider several areas. These include: fitness level, fitness goals, exercise preferences, equipment availability and other personal factors that may impact participation.
The 5 principles of exercise prescription:
- Type: the mode of exercise training (aerobic/endurance training, resistance/strength training, flexibility, and balance).
- Duration: the length of exercise.
- Frequency: the number of exercise sessions that are performed.
- Intensity: the level of effort exerted by the participant (measured by various scales).
- Volume: the number of repetitions.
Through the above principles, we develop a fitness program. The fitness program includes the current level of fitness and it also builds to achieve short and long term goals. Ultimately, each program is designed to restore and/or to optimize performance.
As performance improves, frequency, intensity, and/or duration of an exercise program also progress. More importantly though, we cautiously and strategically advance a program. By doing this we encourage continued participation and also to ultimately avoid injury.
Implications for the Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are well versed in both pathology (disease) and exercise. With that knowledge, physical therapists play a unique role in promoting, prescribing and managing exercise programs. Therefore, beyond being therapeutic, exercise can improve the fitness and well-being of patients and clients.