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Not All Exercise is Good Exercise

Exercise has been shown to have a huge list of benefits and little to no downside. It's common to hear that if exercise was a medication, it would be the greatest wonder-drug ever created. But "exercise" is a broad term that covers a lot of specific movements and activities, not all of which are right for everybody. Getting a program specifically designed for you and your goals can be the difference between progress and frustration or injury. What goes into program design and where can you get a good one? Let's take a look:


Exercise Selection

There are a lot of things to think about when choosing exercises. Machine vs. free weights, isolation vs. compound lifts, cardio vs. strength and more. Each one of these factors is important, so making the wrong choices could lead to wasting time working on the wrong things, limit your results or cause an injury.

Make sure the exercises you are doing relate to your goals. If you are about to run a marathon, you need to make sure that the first day putting on your shoes is not the day of the race. That being said, it is important to work on your strength in the gym to help prepare for the big day.



Volume is a way of thinking about how much work you're doing during a workout. Doing a few reps with a heavy weight or a lot of reps with a light weight could end up being the same volume. Same goes for running a shorter distance quickly uphill vs. a longer run at a slower pace on a flat trail. If your volume is too great you won't recover well between workouts and create the possibility of injury. Too little volume and you won't see results.



If you've been doing the same exercises with the same weight and the same number of reps and sets, you're not progressing. Same goes if you jump on the treadmill for the same amount of time with the same settings. To make progress, things have to change. The program that works for your first 6 months won't work for you 2 years down the road.


How can Physical Therapy Help

Designing an exercise program is a complex challenge with a lot of factors to consider. Most people have a history of injuries and don't have perfect movement in every joint which further complicates things. If you're not getting what you want out of your workouts or just want to make sure they're as effective as they can be, have your physical therapist take a look at your program. Your PT can help design an individualized program to help you reach your goals while keeping you safe and injury free. 

Reach out to your local PT today to help achieve your goals. If you are in the Falls Church or Arlington, VA area, reach out to our office and schedule an appointment today!


About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit
Alana Hamilton Alana Hamilton is a physical therapist at Advantage Physical Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia. She is a proud Hokie from Virginia Tech with a major in Biology and a minor in psychology and sociology. Following graduation, she immediately got her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Radford University. She is an avid fan of Pilates, running, and hiking. On the weekends, she can be found hanging out with her family and baby as well as doing Spartan races with her old physical therapy classmates and friends. She is a big believer that during rehabilitation, "Motion is the Lotion" and that staying active is key to remaining healthy.

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