How Exercise is Preventative

By. Megan A Nino

Exercise science can be separated into three categories: rehabilitation, performance, and prevention. However, exercise science has always been viewed as being in the realm of rehabilitation, such as physical therapy, and strength and conditioning for athletes. With a generation that is becoming more health conscious due to  high disease rates of middle aged people and senior citizens, the field of prevention has been growing rapidly. Exercise as prevention is the improvement of health and quality of life in an individual using a combination of physical activity and other healthier choices. Exercise is also being used as a form of treatment to help individuals overcome symptoms of various diseases and disorders, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.

Function and Quality of Life

Although aging causes a decrease in overall physical functions, “exercise can improve maximal and submaximal aerobic capacity, augment maximal cardiac output, reduce resting blood pressure, and produce favorable changes in body, bone and muscle composition.” Figure 1 shows that the increase in strength, leads to an increase in function. An increase in function also results in an increase in quality of life and reduces many symptoms caused by arthritis and osteoporosis because bone density is being maintained.  (Bean, 2004)

Figure 1:

(Bean, 2004)

Cardiovascular Disease

In patients with cardiovascular disease, a 2% reduction in systolic blood pressure and a reduction in left ventricular hypertrophy can occur with moderate aerobic exercise. (Bean, 2004) Moreover , patients who perform resistance training can reduce their resting systolic blood pressure by 2%. (Braith, 2006)


Although patients may be limited due to certain levels of diabetes, a condition-specific tailored program with a combination of resistance and aerobic training is beneficial for glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in patients with Type II diabetes. (Praet, 2007) However, even an aerobic program can aid in increasing insulin sensitivity. Exercise also reduces the risk for diabetic complication due to the reduction in glycosylated hemoglobin. (Bean, 2004) A reduction in  glycosylated hemoglobin also aids in improving cardiovascular health. (Praet, 2007)


Exercise as prevention is an important part of life that not only improves one’s lifestyle, but can also save someone’s life. Before moving forward with any exercise program, be sure to consult a doctor.


Bean, J.F., Vora, A., Frontera, W.R. (2004). Benefits of Exercise for Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Arch Phys Med Rehabll, 85. Suppl 3.

Braith, R. W., Stewart, K.J. (2006). Resistance Exercise Training: It’s Role In the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association

Praet, S.F.E., & Loon, L.J.C. (2007). Optimizing the Therapeutic Benefits of Exercise in Type II Diabetes. J Appl Physiol, 103, 1113-1120

Sallis, R.E. (2009). Exercise is Medicine and Physicians Need to Prescribe It! Br J Sports Med, 43, 3-4

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