Your Doctor Says That You Need To Exercise More. What Does That Look Like?

The benefits of regular exercise have been proven time and time again to be a safe and effective intervention to counteract numerous age related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes [1], heart disease [2], stroke [3] and many cancers [4].

Despite this well documented knowledge, fewer than 1 in 4 Canadians meet the current guidelines for physical activity according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. This involves moderate to vigorous activity for a minimum of 150 minutes per week.

Why is this the case?

Drugs Dominate Dumbbells

Part of the reason is that Doctors in practice today received little training on the role of exercise in managing disease. Some students only get one, 30 minute lecture over the course of 4 years! Compare that to the amount of training and knowledge they receive on pharmaceuticals!

If the benefits of exercise could be combined into a pill form, it would easily be prescribed to almost everyone.

Things Are Changing

There is a great movement afoot (pun intended) among Canadian Doctors encouraging their patients to exercise more. In recent years, Canadian medical schools — such as the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary — have revised their curricula to incorporate aspects of exercise in the prevention and treatment of disease.

Other growing initiatives like Exercise is Medicine have also strongly advocated for the role of exercise and encourage Doctors to prescribe it. They even go as far as to provide custom exercise prescription cards to make it that much easier.

So what do most adults do when their Doctor prescribes them exercise?

Older Patients Are Often Misguided

In response to the Doctor’s orders, many patients (especially older adults) enroll in classes at typical gyms with trainers who are inexperienced working with clients facing age related illness or injury.

Some trainers may have elderly clients perform exercises into a forward, slouched position, such as sit-ups and most yoga moves. An appropriate prescription for a 30 year old looking to build a six pack perhaps; but not so much for a senior hoping to improve their strength and mobility in a safe manner.

Walking Is Good, But Not Necessarily Enough

Many adults decide to walk more. This is a good option to load the hip bones and maintain cardiovascular health.

That being said, if no work is done to strengthen other major muscle groups of the body, slouching and other poor posture may develop which may put a patient at an increased risk for fractures or falls.

Furthermore, walking strictly on a flat surface does not fully engage the major muscles of the legs (i.e., quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors).  Eventually over time many seniors will experience balance issues and difficulty climbing stairs due to inadequate leg strength.

Guided Strength Training: The Best Kept Secret

When it comes to building and maintaining strength, mobility and confidence long term, resistance exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls are all necessary to maintain an active lifestyle as people enter their golden years – be it gardening, playing with grandchildren, caring for pets, hobbies, etc.

Performing these exercises under professional supervision ensures that they are being done correctly and safely which provides much needed piece of mind.

Work With A Pro

At Stephen Fitness & Rehabilitation, we prescribe and supervise the exercise routines that are specifically designed to meet and exceed Doctor’s orders!

We proudly service the London & Oakville, Ontario areas.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one(s) become stronger, more mobile and independent in the comfort of home.


[1] Aune, D., Norat, T., Leitzmann, M., Tonstad, S., & Vatten, L. J. (2015). Physical activity and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. European journal of epidemiology30(7), 529–542.

[2] Lear, S. A., Hu, W., Rangarajan, S., Gasevic, D., Leong, D., Iqbal, R., … & Yusuf, S. (2017). The effect of physical activity on mortality and cardiovascular disease in 130 000 people from 17 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries: the PURE study. The Lancet390(10113), 2643-2654.

[3] Hu, F. B., Stampfer, M. J., Colditz, G. A., Ascherio, A., Rexrode, K. M., Willett, W. C., & Manson, J. E. (2000). Physical activity and risk of stroke in women. Jama283(22), 2961-2967.

[4] Moore SC, Lee I, Weiderpass E, et al. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):816–825. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548