Many older adults are already used to getting at least one prescription when they visit the doctor. Two scientists have been asking what if, in addition to prescribing medications, physicians also prescribed exercise? Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, a researcher in the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University, and Heather Mernitz, PhD, of the Nutrition and Cancer Biology Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, have proposed the idea of helping doctors include exercise recommendations into their routine practice. In the August 1, 2006, issue of American Family Physician (2006; 74 , 437–44), McDermott and Mernitz provided guidelines, with the following “FITT-PRO”model: frequency; intensity; type; time; and progression.
According to FITT-PRO principles, exercise prescriptions would include the type of exercise, how often, how hard and for how long. The exercises would progress over time as the patients became more physically fit. McDermott and Mernitz caution that, as with medication prescriptions, these exercise parameters would need to be personalized to suit each patient’s health status and goals. Fitness professionals would be perfectly positioned to ensure that patients followed through on their new exercise programs.