Exercise Prescription

Adequate physical activity is dependent on having a well-rounded program that encompasses all aspects of improving health and preventing disease. A well-rounded program includes cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, posture, and maintenance of body composition.

The most effective way to participate in a well-rounded program is by following a simple mnemonic device called FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type). The FITT principle includes how many times a week one should exercise (frequency), how intense the workout should be (intensity), how long the workout is (time), and what modality to use (type of exercise). Modality is dependent primarily on what an individual prefers. This exercise prescription in based on an individual's fitness level when entering the exercise program, and ultimately upon the goals of the individual. For ex-

ample, an untrained individual who wants to lose weight and likes to walk would be placed on a program of treadmill or outdoor walking (type), for thirty minutes a day (time), three to five times per week (frequency), and of light to moderate intensity (intensity).

A good example of an exercise program would include three stages. The first stage is a warm-up, where one should complete light calisthenics to activate and warm the muscles, immediately followed by stretching, which helps to maintain flexibility. The second stage is the conditioning stage, which consists of cardiovascular work to enhance the function of the heart and lungs and a resistance-training regimen to strengthen and tone major muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, biceps, triceps, back, and abdominals. The final stage consists of a cool down, or reduction in heart rate to resting levels, as well as stretching again, since the greatest modification in flexibility comes from post-exercise stretching.

Maintenance of physical activity is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition, it is important to follow an exercise regime that will start slow and gradually increase as fitness level and exercise tolerance increases. The key is to complete at least thirty minutes of activity most days of the week in the form of activities that one enjoys, such as walking, jogging, swimming, aerobic dance, biking, skateboarding, or participating in a sport. This will enable an individual to reach the goals of Healthy People 2010, which include improving the quality of life through fitness with the adoption and maintenance of regular exercise and physical activity programs. see also Sports Nutrition.

Robert J. Moffatt Sara A. Chelland


American College of Sports Medicine (2000). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 6th edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Corbin, Charles B.; Lindsey, Ruth; and Welk, Greg (2000). Concepts of Physical Fitness and Wellness: A Comprehensive Lifestyle Approach, 3rd edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

McArdle, William D.; Katch, Frank I.; and Katch, Victor L. (2001). Essentials of Exercise Physiology. Philadelphia: Lea & Faber.

Robbins, Gwen; Powers, Debbie; and Burgess, Sharon (2002). A Wellness Way of Life, 5th edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

United States Department of Health and Human Services (1996). Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wallace, Janet P. (2001). "Health Benefits of Exercise and Fitness." In Foundations of Exercise Science, ed. Gary Kamen. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

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