Published on December 19, 2022

Exercise As Medicine: A Little (or Lot) Goes a Long Way

It’s no secret that staying active is good for you, but just how much of an impact can it make on your long-term health? Elisa Poon, Exercise and Wellness Specialist at Servus Credit Union Place shares how physical activity can help prevent a variety of unwanted health conditions.

Research has consistently shown that participating in physical activity and regular exercise provides many health benefits to individuals of all ages and abilities. 

Aerobic Exercise

fitness instructor holding weightAerobic exercise is a type of repetitive structured physical activity that utilizes the metabolic system that requires oxygen to produce energy (Millstein, 2020). Aerobic exercise enhances the cardiovascular system’s ability to uptake and transport oxygen. Examples of aerobic exercise include long distance running or jogging, cycling, hiking, swimming, walking, and more. 

Participating in aerobic exercise has been shown to reverse or prevent cardiovascular disease (Patel et al., 2017). Aerobic exercise contributes to improving blood pressure therefore reducing your risk of hypertension and decreasing the likelihood of coronary heart disease. Aerobic exercise also increases good cholesterol (HDL) which is very important in cardiovascular health as it helps remove excess cholesterol within your bloodstream, aiding in the prevention of bad cholesterol (LDL) being built up into the walls of your blood vessels (Wang & Xu, 2017). When LDL builds up on the walls of your blood vessels, there is a possibility of a clot to occur which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, it has been shown that aerobic exercise can positively impact executive brain functions by improving its ability to task switch, utilize selective attention and continually update working memory functions. (Guiney & Machado, 2012).  

Resistance Training

fitness instructor smiling and doing a squat with barbellResistance training is a form of exercise involving the use of external resistance such as weights, bands, or body weight working against gravity to strengthen muscle groups. Like aerobic exercise, resistance training has been shown to improve cardiovascular health by lowering resting blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol, and increasing good cholesterol (Westcott, 2012). 

Resistance exercise has been shown to stimulate bone growth by increasing bone mineral density and preserving bone mass. Research has shown that adults who do not participate in resistance exercise could face one to three percent reduction in bone mineral density each year, increasing their possibility of living with osteoporosis (Westcott, 2012). There is also evidence that resistance training can help fight the onset of type 2 diabetes because of its ability to improve insulin resistance and control of blood glucose levels (Westcott, 2012). Resistance training can help reduce abdominal fat which is critical for prevention of type 2 diabetes due to the link between abdominal fat and insulin resistance. 

man squatting at rack with bar bellConsistent resistance training can assist in maintaining physical functions and allow you to take part in your daily living activities with ease. For example, let’s look at a squat. If you have built up the strength to squat with weights, the task of sitting into a chair and getting out of a chair will be easy for you. It may be easy to overlook these daily activities when you are young but independence with these movements will decline as you age so there is much value in continually maintaining these functions.

Exercise is medicine, movement is medicine, stay active everyone! 

Servus Place has plenty of classes to help you get started and/or continue your fitness journey. Check out classes with Elisa including Intro to Free Weights, Powerlifting, and Iron Woman!

Annual members at Servus Place gain access to over 50 drop-in classes at no additional cost and receive a 15% discount on all registered programs. Learn more about the benefits of an annual membership and get started on your fitness and wellness journey today!

Guiney, H., & Machado, L. (2012). Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20(1), 73–86.
Millstein, R. (2020). Aerobic exercise. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, 61–62.
Patel, H., Alkhawam, H., Madanieh, R., Shah, N., Kosmas, C. E., & Vittorio, T. J. (2017). Aerobic vs anaerobic exercise training effects on the cardiovascular system. World Journal of Cardiology, 9(2), 134.
Wang, Y., & Xu, D. (2017). Effects of aerobic exercise on lipids and lipoproteins. Lipids in Health and Disease, 16(1).
Westcott, W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 11(4), 209–216.


Last edited: December 19, 2022