Exercise is Medicine


Demand is coming-Are you ready?

Exercise is Medicine 
Nicholas M. Licameli, PT,DPT

There are some cliché sayings out there…some hold truth, while others are just plain verbal diarrhea.  

“I love you more than life itself.”

“What goes around comes around.”

“You are what you eat.”

For a physical therapist or physical therapy student, “Exercise is medicine,” is as cliché as it gets.  If we had a PT flag, that’s what would be written on it for crying out loud!  While it may be cliché, viewing exercise as medicine is one of the most powerful paradigm shifts one can make for their health.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s see what the research shows!

A common thought is that as we age, we should decrease the amount we exercise to reduce injury risk and prevent further physical “wear and tear.”  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Inactivity sets off a negative feedback loop that not only reduces our physical capabilities, but also accelerates our loss of cognitive functioning. The role of muscle beyond aesthetics CANNOT be overemphasized enough.  Muscle function is crucial as a metabolic sink for excess blood sugar and as a regulator of systemic inflammation. High amounts of systemic inflammation can contribute to neurodegeneration, metabolic dysfunction, and frailty, which can all lead to…you guessed it – more inactivity! 


Strength training can also improve mitochondrial function.  Mitochondria are essential in regulating systemic inflammation, promoting energy availability for muscle function, and acting as a marker for a number of positive health benefits like aerobic capacity.  Strength train and strength train often!



How can BFR training fit into this?  One barrier to strength training in the elderly could be a fear of or an inability to train with heavy loads.  BFR would allow these individuals to lift light loads while reaping the benefits of heavy load training!  We have evidence that shows that BFR training can potentially improve functional outcome measures, risk of fall, bone mineral density, sarcopenia, and much more!  I know what you’re thinking…”Nick, my grandmother doesn’t even like to get up from the couch to use the bathroom, how do you expect her to willingly tolerate the pain of BFR training?”  Valid point.  Enter intermittent BFR!  Releasing the cuff between sets can decrease overall discomfort without sacrificing effectiveness.  Bada bing, bada boom!

So what are you waiting for?  Let’s say it together…EXERCISE IS MEDICINE!


Rezuş, E., Burlui, A., Cardoneanu, A., Rezuş, C., Codreanu, C., Pârvu, M., Rusu Zota, G., & Tamba, B. I. (2020). Inactivity and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism: A Vicious Cycle in Old Age. International journal of molecular sciences21(2), 592. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21020592

Adopted from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNhov_bjiNy/

****Remember, the use of BFR training should not be based solely on a success story.  The decision to use BFR, or any treatment for that matter, should be based on the pillars of evidence-based practice.

Are you ready to meet the growing demand as a Confident BFR Provider?

Be sure to check out our engaging 4-hour On Demand On-Line BFR Training course right HERE

Our course is for both Rehab and Fitness professionals and will provide everything you will need to overcome the three hurdles for successful BFR Training and help guide you to become a Confident Successful BFR Provider.


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