Author: McMurtry, Danielle

Low Intensity Exercise: Meeting Your Patients Where They Are with a Low Intensity Workout Plan

With your heart being one of the most important muscles  in your body, it requires exercise to strengthen it as well as your other muscles to improve overall health. What if your patients requiring a low intensity beginner workout routine could realize gains by doing something as simple as walking around their home or yard? The data are developing on the benefits of walking!

 Walking is extremely beneficial as seen in a review of clinical trials that have concluded aerobic exercise, such as walking, is an effective way of increasing good cholesterol HDL (high density lipoprotein cholesterol) and reducing triglycerides. And walking exercise at a high or moderate intensity for longer periods of time or distance will show more favorable effects up to a point.

“Walking is great because almost everyone can do it. And it doesn’t have to be a

big outing, if you are just starting out you can walk around the house to start.” 

-Linda S. Pescatello, Ph.D., Professor of Kinesiology at University of Connecticut

There are many different levels of fitness which is where a customized exercise intensity solution, such as walking, comes into play. It’s a good solution for many and it doesn’t matter if the walking is slow, fast, short or long distance. The point is to get patients moving.

And no matter what level of fitness suits your patients best, the Start-Where-You-Are Walking Plan created by Chris Twiggs was designed to meet them at their particular exercise intensity capabilities. Start your patients on a low intensity exercise routine that could eventually lead to greater gains by incorporating something like low impact cardio, or perhaps eventually, moderate aerobic activity at a later date should abilities increase. Chris is the chief training officer at Galloway Training in Atlanta Georgia and designed three different programs within the plan: One for making walking a habit, increasing the amount of time or distance you are walking, and for increasing your walking pace. 

Each program allows for individuals to walk towards a healthier tomorrow and improve their overall well-being safely.

Our team regularly contributes to growing the understanding that exercise is medicine. Learn more about Dr. Pescatello’s research behind the patient-specific tool in this article from Health Central:

P3-EX: Individualized Exercise Prescription

Individualized treatment, prescribing exercise and creating targeted plans to optimize health on every scale, has been the main goal of my work for many years. 

When it comes to diagnosing and treating specific conditions within patients, each individual factor needs to be considered when designing a plan for their health, which is not always a widely practiced plan of action due to its difficulty. With regular exercise being a key component in treatment, not all exercise plans fit each unique person.

I thought it was about time to take exercise prescription to another level of success and more than a decade ago, I began to do just that. Creating the FITT principle in order to help my students understand how and why to prescribe physical exercise, it has since become the standard in not only my classes, but of framing exercise prescription recommendations of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Since then I have partnered with UConn students, faculty and a team of other wonderful individuals within the field to create a tool called Prioritize Personalize Prescribe Exercise or P3-EX that uses the FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type) principle to frame the exercise prescription. This tool aids in the process of prescribing exercise to patients by providing specific, time-effective, evidence-based recommendations for professionals to recommend. 

Take a look at this UConn today article: Innovative Decision Support System for Individualized Exercise Prescription

Utilizing an extensive algorithm designed with the help of my team (mentioned below), we have created a pivotal tool designed to aid health professionals in determining treatment. Using data analysis, the tool enables practitioners to identify which cardiovascular disease risk factors they should target to best benefit their patients.

The work with my students and fellow researchers in the field has enabled us to construct this decision-support system in a collaborative manner. We are now able to create personalized exercise plans to support patient heart health.

Programs such as Exercise Prescription helps students such as the ones I am working with, to bring their career to the next level while gaining hands-on learning experience, working with professionals like myself to build a healthier tomorrow. 

The interdisciplinary team includes:

Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Kinesiology Yin Wu ’19 (CAHNR), Kinesiology graduate students Rachel Berkowsky, Shiqi Chen, Erica Bushey, and Christina Day; adjunct professor of computer science and engineering at UConn, Justin Kennedy; Senior scientist at Hartford Hospital, Gregory Panza; and field medical director at Servier Pharmaceuticals, Margaux “Maggie” Guidry.

Faculty Introduction: Linda S. Pescatello

As a Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut (UConn), Storrs and a current researcher in the field, I focus on the study of exercise prescription to optimize health benefits. Through in-depth research, assessment and collaboration with my colleagues, we have since developed what is known as the online graduate ExRxcertificate program. 

Designed around what is widely known as the gold standard in the fields of sports medicine, exercise science, and health and fitness—ACSM’s GETP, this program gives individuals an opportunity to learn from and interact with the best experts in the field. Furthermore, the course’s learning environment helps to provide students with the unique opportunity to learn from leading experts who deliver course content completely virtually, as well as the ability to interact with their fellow classmates. 

Now, let’s get down to business. The world is discovering that exercise is medicine! That’s just a fact. In order to help meet the demand for continuing education in the exercise science field, I along with the University of Connecticut, are offering a certificate that can prepare you to take your career to the next level and capitalize on the growing exercise science, personal training, fitness and Kinesiology industries. 

Excited to learn more about certification? Look no further than our past students as they share their experiences, recent work and future plans! Learn more today.