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The concept that participation in exercise/physical activity reduces the risk for a host of chronic diseases is undisputed. Along with adaptations to habitual activity, each bout of exercise induces beneficial changes that last for a finite period of time, requiring subsequent exercise bouts to sustain the benefits. In this respect, exercise/physical activity is similar to other “medications” and the idea of “Exercise as Medicine” is becoming embedded in the popular lexicon. Like other medications, exercise has an optimal dose and frequency of application specific to each health outcome, as well as interactions with food and other medications. Using the prevention of type-2 diabetes as an exemplar, the application of exercise/physical activity as a medication for metabolic “rehabilitation” is considered in these terms. Some recommendations that are specific to diabetes prevention emerge, showing the process by which exercise can be prescribed to achieve health goals tailored to individual disease prevention outcomes.
Braun is a professor and head of the Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.