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Stephen Keane Mar 22, 2020 12:00:00 PM 12 min read

Exercise is Medicine

Exercise - The Movement Medicine

If I could create or invent one product in life, it would be an oral pill which would yield the same benefits of exercise, without having to exercise.

‘Exercise is Medicine’ is the phrase and platform which motivates and drives me in life.

The benefits of exercise can be identified in a whole host of aspects. From the well-known physical improvements to more healthy mental states, as well as providing a platform to enhance your social life, exercise has it all. It is a cost-free drug, capable of being performed anywhere at any time, regardless of your ability, age, sex and location.

Note: This is particularly relevant if you are stuck at home due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, as there are so many options that you can avail of if you can only exercise at home. If you are an FFS member, then you can check out the online programmes available to you. Not a member? Then make sure to visit @ffsgyms on Instagram everyday for an Instagram Live workout.

One of the biggest issues observed with disease and illness in the health sector is the treatment over prevention approach. A GP will rarely prescribe exercise to an individual but always prescribes medication or drugs. Granted, the medication is needed, but the preventative nature that exercise holds over sickness and disease should warrant exercise prescription to the sick and healthy!

According to the World Health Organisation ( WHO, 2018), 23% of adults are insufficiently active globally, as are a staggering 80% of adolescents. In 2006, £900 million was spent on ill-health relating to physical inactivity ( Scarborough et al., 2011). The numbers are rising profoundly, and both the health and financial impact is being vividly observed.

Source: Dr. Scott Lear

The obstacles, the benefits, and the how-to of exercise


The idea of using a pill to induce the benefits of exercise stems from the obstacles and hurdles people face with exercise and movement. Everyone struggles at times to live a healthy, movement rich life. Whether it’s the lack of knowledge regarding how to exercise effectively, finding working out overwhelming, being excessively busy with work or simply being too lazy and sedentary. There’s always going to be obstacles.

I believe my purpose in life is to empower people to understand the modalities of exercise, its accessibility, and its profound importance. Through these, I want to help motivate them to constantly better themselves through movement and physical activity. If we can constantly find ways to overcome the barriers to exercise and movement, both our mental and physical well-being will thank us for it later. This is a step-by-step, educational process that comes with sacrifice, time, and, most importantly, consistency.


Where do I start with the benefits and importance of exercise? The more commonly known advantages to exercise include decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, increased functional movement and strength, greater bone density, superior body composition, and improved energy levels.

All of these are crucial, but what if I was to tell you that even if you go for a 30-minute brisk walk, the benefits include;

Advanced cognitive functioningVascular functionHypertrophy of the heartElevated metabolismDiabetes controlDecrease in blood pressureRespiratory functioningIncreased hormonal efficiencyDecrease in stress and tensionImproved sleep

A study conducted in 2016 ( Public Health England, 2016) also illustrated exercise having reduced prevalence of dementia, reduced risks of falls in the elderly populations, fewer symptoms of depression and lower risk of all cancers. There is no medicine in the world which will present these improvements and protection to our lives all at once, except for exercise.

Source: Public Health England, 2016.Health Matters: Getting every adult active every day

The benefits are endless. Being aware of the benefits and understanding the importance is all well and good, but what are the guidelines, and how do we overcome these obstacles?


Without delving into the set guidelines and parameters for exercise, the main component is consistency. Once an individual maintains a consistent mindset to movement and physical activity, they will form a habit, enabling them to always reap the rewards of exercise.

The set guidelines for exercise;

  • 30 Minutes light-moderate intensity 5 days a week
  • or
  • 30 Minutes moderate-vigorous intensity 3 days a week
Although these are fine, set guidelines, it’s important to note that any physical activity is better than none. If you’re an individual working a desk job, even some seated movement can go a long way.

If you are normally based in an office then you can consider the following ways to increase your daily activity:

  • Why not have one of your meetings outdoors on a walk?
  • Have you ever been waiting on the bus for 10 minutes; Why not walk to the next bus stop during that time?
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

If you are work from home (or are currently working from home due to Covid-19 ) then the following tips can help keep you moving daily activity:

  • Get outside at lunch time for a walk (if it is safe to do so, make sure to maintain social distancing guidelines)
  • Set an alarm to remind you to get up and do some light stretching every hour for 5 mins
  • Book in an appointment with yourself to do a home session.
Check out @ffsgyms on Instagram everyday for an Instagram Live workout during Covid-19)


Movement and physical activity is accessible, always.

For me, I like to set goals and targets to hit. These in turn keep me accountable and give me a platform to train towards, giving my training basis and direction. For example, I and a few other individuals in the gym have decided to compete in several Triathlons this coming summer. Sharing my goals with other people motivate me more to one, work towards them, but also to support me when motivation and drive are low. This is also a crucial component of overcoming some of those barriers to physical activity and exercise. We can’t solely rely on self-drive and motivation. Sometimes the support of others is what helps us the most, and this for me, is why I do what I do.

As an individual looking to pursue the field of exercise physiology and better understand the mechanisms of physical activity, I feel it necessary to support and empower as many people as possible to live a healthier, happier life. If we can all make small, positive steps to increase our exercise volume weekly, then our bodies and wallets will thank us for it in the future.

At the end of the day, exercise truly is medicine.

Find Out More

Right now, FFS Gyms are doing our part to flatten the curve and how temporarily closed our gym locations. If you are an FFS member, then you can check out the online programmes available to you via your emails.

Not a member? Then make sure to visit @ffsgyms on Instagram everyday for an Instagram Live workout. Our Fitter Faster Strong Youtube channel is also full of recipe ideas and some physio exercises for you to check out.

If you are interested in doing 1:1 Personal Training with Stephen in the future then please email him here at stephen@ffs.ie.


Stephen Keane

Stephen is an S&C Coach and Personal Trainer in FFS Gym, Parnell Street. He is a final year Sports Science and Health student in DCU. Stephen has a passion for sport, movement and physical activity which motivates him in his job. A Gaelic footballer, soccer player, and beach lifeguard, he has surrounded himself in an environment which promotes and supports exercise and physical activity. Living his life by the phrase 'Exercise is Medicine', Stephen strives to educate and empower people to live healthier, movement-rich lives. He wishes to further his knowledge in exercise physiology; Understanding the underlying mechanisms of exercise, hoping to bring further awareness and insight in to the industry. Email Stephen at stephen@ffs.ie