It’s always interesting to me, when a recent discovery supports how things have been done by the top practitioners every day: the realization that Long, Slow Distance training is important for middle-distance runners too; the ‘finding’ that eating unprocessed foods may lead to lower risks of GI issues; the discovery that allowing children to participate in many sports, may benefit them more than specializing too early.
While certainly adding credence to the practice, these obvious findings sometimes leave us to wonder: why has it even ever been done differently? It’s not extreme and certainly not novel, to try to set up optimal conditions to allow the way the body and mind to function at their prime, in more natural ways.
So, while it’s not as if this topic is new to many, it’s another string-in-the-bow for the public to not only accept, but demand more from specific / personalized health (and more specifically, exercise) recommendations. How is it that the one-size-fits-all approach can still be taken seriously, given the various demands and limitations that our own physiology (and psychology, for that matter) require us to address.
This article, by Alex Allan in the Globe and Mail, is an overly-simplified callout to a fact that, many of us and our physicians may not even realize- the prescription, the dose, the type of exercises, all must be individualized and progressive; they must also be specific to the outcome and starting point.
“Imagine your doctor wrote a prescription for your elevated blood pressure and then sent you to an exercise facility to fill it.”
Perhaps, the public is not only hesitant of the sweaty, uncomfortable, inchworm-gains that exercise may bring to their aches, ailments and performance, but also the lack of specificity and precision that spin classes and population policies leave us with. It should be much more obvious that exercise regimens need to be as diverse as Facebook pages and it takes more than a “workout-of-the-day” to reach this year’s resolutions.
“A better world can exist where generic advice such as “be more active” is replaced by specific exercise recommendations that include the same detail afforded to medication guidelines.”
Take for instance, how specific recommendations are for appropriate doses of medications, vitamins and chemotherapy. A physician would find themselves in a malpractice suit if they were giving the same advice for pain relief as they are left to, with exercise: have less pain and take more Tylenol; whatever you’re doing now, just take a bunch more. It’s not the fault of the medical system: there currently do not exist many appropriate exercise recommendations for specific ailments and conditions. But the impetus for a remedy or adjuvant therapy, with less toxic side effects is a responsibility that cannot take a backseat any longer. Exercise prescription will have the added benefit of side effects that are often able to assist in the prevention and rehabilitation of several other associated diseases and conditions.
And if you’re wondering, but how can exercise target these specific limitations, doesn’t it just keep off fat, help keep my heart strong and build muscle? then you’ve helped to illustrate the point: exercise is a very powerful tool that can address some very important mechanisms and processes in the body. For instance, increasing blood flow to a tumor (which often functions in a low-blood flow environment) may seem counterintuitive, feeding the cells with more nutrients/blood, but when coupled with a chemotherapy regimen, it can allow improved delivery of therapy to the tumor, making the treatment more effective.
The use of exercise to target these conditions and conditions is only limited by creativity and an appropriate perspective of an integrative approach to the body. Greater demand for improved research, with targeted exercise approaches, must enact action at all levels of research and practice. Ignoring the power and the importance of specific exercise prescriptions is an unacceptable blindspot.
There’s no need to just imagine it; we’re creating it- there is so much great work to be done; but we have to demand more!