Exercise is medicine: Primary care counseling on aerobic fitness and muscle strengthening

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Patient counseling on physical fitness remains underutilized in primary care, despite its clinical and cost effectiveness. Most counseling interventions have focused on aerobic activity and neglected another vital component of physical fitness, muscle strengthening, which has recently been shown to be independently protective against cardiometabolic diseases and premature mortality. This article reviews the latest scientific evidence and makes recommendations toward a more comprehensive approach for promoting physical fitness in primary care. Given the high prevalence and wide-ranging health impacts of physical inactivity, counseling on physical fitness should be a standard part of wellness promotion and disease prevention and treatment for all patients. Interventions that include muscle strengthening will have a significantly greater impact on health outcomes than those focused on aerobic fitness alone. Counseling to promote both aerobic fitness and muscle strengthening is indicated for all patients, irrespective of body weight, and should begin early in life and continue across the life course.


External organisations
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Stanford University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sport and Fitness Sciences
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Counseling, Exercise, Physical Fitness, Premature Mortality, Primary Health Care
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch