• BHN

If Exercise is Medicine, what's the dosage doc?

By now you would have heard us talk about ‘exercise is medicine’, but how do we dose exercise effectively?


Exercise is medicine

There are a few rules that have been used for a long period of time:

Endurance 12+reps, 2-3 sets.

Hypertrophy 6-12 reps, 3-6 sets

Strength 6 or less reps, 2-6 sets

Power 1-2 reps, 3-5 sets


Its not just about how heavy you can lift

However this isn’t particularly useful in a rehabilitation setting when pain and healing need to be taken into account.


Therapeutic exercise needs to consider a whole lot of other factors, such as:

  • Pain

  • Specific functions

  • Fear avoidance & psychological measures (very important in outcomes & prognosis)

  • Confidence & motivation

  • Freedom of movement/relaxation

  • Movement strategy

  • Adherence


Exercise is not always expected to change pain initially, but learning how to move WITHIN pain tolerance is important.

There are 2 really simple rating tools we use as clinicians and they are:

  1. RPE (rating of perceived exertion) - how hard you are working, and

  2. VAS (Visual Analogue Scale of pain) - How much something hurts.



Rating of Perceived Exertion

Visual Analogue Scale