This is why exercise should be viewed as a medication


When was the last time that you required medication or took a multi-vitamin to assist your body in response to a health complication or to improve your health? 

  • Perhaps it was Panadiene Forte for a strong headache?
  • The multi-vitamin you take each morning with breakfast?
  • Or maybe it was medication for your high cholesterol? 
  • Or was it Endone (or another addictive opioid) for your pain? 

For any of these medications, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into creation of the drug to ensure its safety and effectiveness in aiding our bodies, whilst at the same time not causing any harm. 

If the benefits of exercise were in pill form, every person in the world would be taking it!


Similarly, Doctors spend a lot of time and effort ensuring that the right medication is given for the right reason and not simply taking a pill bottle from the shelf and giving it out mindlessly, which would be ludicrous!

Exercise is now being used in the same format that medications are currently provided!

University trained Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEP’s) undergo extensive anatomical and physiological studies analysing how the many various types of exercise can benefit the human body. AEP’s are trained professionals at understanding and providing the specific and precise type of exercise program for a health complication in the same way that a Doctor would prescribe medication. This phrase is termed as exercise prescription.

Interestingly, exercise prescription follows the same pathway that a Doctor would follow in providing the correct treatment for a pathology. This involves understanding which specific type of drug/exercise to prescribe for your ailment, how much of a dose (concentration and intensity) to take, at what frequency, at what course duration and when to expect symptom improvement.

Here are two different examples of exercise being used in the same format as a drug:

  • A person with type 2 diabetes will likely benefit from prescription of an aerobic/endurance walking program for 20-30minutes once daily at a pace that makes them slightly breathless with a slight sweat on their forehead. 
  • Someone with knee pain will likely benefit from prescription of a strength based program that may involve 5 repetitions, twice daily of a squatting movement over a period of 6 weeks to notice an improvement.

Different programs are suited for each individual health condition. AEP’s are trained specialists of the body who understand what movement or exercises best align with managing, strengthening, reducing or preventing injuries and worsening states of the body. If you have had any persistent health related problems and have not tried exercise as a medication to fix it, please contact us at Effect Exercise Physiology to learn how exercise can best benefit you. 

In Summary

Exercise had the efficacy of over 50,000 different medications in a small simple package that benefits all the systems and organs within out body. Here are 5 take home messages for the benefits of exercise over relying on medication:

  1. Exercise has a greater health prevention role to medication. Medication is typically only used in response after a health complication has occurred
  2. Exercise is a lot safer with fewer side-effects when compared to medications
  3. Exercise is cheaper, more accessible and treats a large variety of health complications 
  4. Exercise coupled with being outdoors has been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, depression and boost self-esteem, confidence and happiness1
  5. Exercise promotes greater living independence, quality of life and reduces all cause mortality (death) for all people in all aspects of life

All you need to begin is 20-30 minutes a day!

Written by Scott Parker, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, 2022



  • Gladwell V.F, 2013, ‘The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all’, DOI: 10.1186/2046-7648-2-3
  • Vina J, 2012, Exercise acts as a drug: the pharmacological benefits of exercise, DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01970.x

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