An exercise prescription is a personalized plan for physical activity that is created by a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, physical therapist, endocrinologist, or exercise physiologist. It is based on the individual’s needs and goals, and it considers their medical history, fitness level, and any other relevant factors. It is often recommended in response to a patient’s needs to manage a metabolic condition such as diabetes as exercise produces healing hormones and can reduce a patient’s weight and related disease risk.  

An exercise prescription from a metabolism doctor features several core elements: 

  • The recommended type of exercises will depend on the individual’s goals, their doctor’s assessment, and any health conditions they may have. For example, people with heart disease may need to engage in progressively dynamic aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking. People with arthritis may receive instruction from their doctor to perform low-impact exercises, such as swimming or yoga. 
  • The intensity of the exercise. It should be challenging but achievable. The metabolism doctor and other members of the care team will advise patients to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity as the patient’s fitness improves. They will do this as part of a broader wellness plan combining diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. 
  • The frequency of exercise refers to how often you should exercise each week. Most adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. 
  • The duration of each exercise session will depend on the type of exercise you are doing and your fitness level. For example, a moderate-intensity aerobic workout should last at least 30 minutes. Some patients might need to start with five or 10 minutes of exercise.  
  • As you get fitter, you may need to increase the intensity, frequency, or duration of your workouts to maintain or improve your fitness level. This is called a “progression” and is a core part of an exercise prescription as it keeps patients on track to improve over time and build up their strength and positive metabolic feedback to keep them healthy. 

Diabetes Patients Need Detailed Exercise Prescriptions 

Exercise recommendations for diabetes patients typically include a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training. It is frequently prescribed for overweight patients who need to improve their heart health and reduce the negative impacts extra weight has on their insulin levels and broader health. 

Exercise is a vital component in managing type 2 diabetes, especially when it’s associated with excess weight or a sedentary lifestyle. Aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming strengthen the heart, improve blood pressure, blood sugar control, and aid in weight management. Strength training helps muscles respond better to insulin, facilitating blood sugar absorption by cells which helps regulate diabetes. 

For people with type 2 diabetes, it’s suggested to engage in moderate-intensity exercise like walking for 150 minutes a week or vigorous exercise for 90 minutes a week. People with diabetes should exercise caution, paying attention to their blood sugar levels, using proper footwear to prevent blisters, and avoiding strenuous activities that could trigger eye issues. Staying hydrated and carrying carbohydrate-rich snacks for low blood sugar episodes is also advised. Endocrinologists can provide patients with detailed information about diet and exercise plans that enable the patients to reach both short and long-term goals.  

An experienced endocrinologist like New Jersey-based Dr. Brian Fertig can work with the entire care team to craft an achievable exercise prescription and fitness regimen for a metabolism condition. Dr. Fertig is an accomplished doctor and author who penned “Metabolism & Medicine”, a comprehensive two-part series that explores the many ways metabolic processes relate to health outcomes.  

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