The benefits of exercise therapy for specific target groups

To mark the occasion of World Physio Day, we briefly broached the topic of exercise therapy using strength training equipment in a blog post discussing osteoarthritis. The following blog post will dive even deeper into how strength training equipment can open up not only the physiotherapist's practice but locations everywhere to a world of possibilities.

Exercise therapy using strength training equipment

The advantage of exercise therapy using a variety of strength training equipment is that specific exercises can be offered in suitable doses, especially if equipment with a hydraulic system is used. Exercise therapy focuses mainly on improving flexibility and strength, which is important to make progress or recover from many pathologies. However, flexibility and strength are also of value for healthy people, for example for injury and fall prevention. Exercise therapy can therefore be used both for preventive and care purposes. Moreover, exercise equipment lends itself perfectly to group training.

Practical use of strength training equipment

A physiotherapist with a diverse range of devices at his disposal can use them in a variety of ways, for example:

  • In exercise therapy as targeted individual rehabilitation
  • In small circuit training for specific target groups, e.g. seniors, COPD, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, post-operative, etc.
  • In full circuit training in rehabilitation centres, care homes and hospitals.

Group training for specific target groups is motivating, making it easier for patients to get moving and stay moving longer. In addition, studies show that people with chronic problems who do strength training under the expert guidance of a physiotherapist see their quality of life improve significantly.1  

As for the target group of seniors, several scientific studies show that strength training in the elderly can help maintain bone mineral density and thus reduce the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.2

Other conditions can also get health benefits by performing targeted exercise therapy. For example, endurance and strength training are both essential components of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with COPD.3 

Exercise therapy is also widely recommended to treat knee, hip and hand osteoarthritis. However, the evidence shown varies by where the osteoarthritis occurs.4  

A combination of strength and endurance training significantly improved muscle strength and cardiorespiratory endurance in rheumatoid arthritis patients. They also saw positive changes in body composition and functional ability. In addition, long-term training appears to be effective in reducing disease activity and associated pain.5 

There is also growing evidence that starting strength training early postoperatively is safe and effective in restoring muscle function in elderly patients who have undergone acute or planned surgery.

But it is not just practical for people with symptoms and at the physiotherapist's practice. The equipment can be used much more widely, such as in (supervised) fitness or, for example, in communal sports or leisure areas.


The advantages of a hydraulic system

Strength training using equipment is generally safer than strength training with free weights for two reasons:

  1. No loose weights and weight plates lying around in the room.
  2. The movement to be made is determined and limited by the device, which – especially with heavier weights – greatly reduces the risk of injury in case of incorrect execution. 

Strength training equipment with hydraulic cylinders offers additional safety, as the hydraulic system not only limits but also controls the movement. The exercise can be stopped when the resistance is too heavy and the weight can no longer be held. The machine remains in the last position and there is no weight plate to be brought back to the starting position by tired or overworked muscles. This also reduces the risk of injury. 

Some other advantages of a hydraulic system:

  • The resistance is easy to adjust
  • Resistance is lighter and more evenly distributed
  • Quiet movements during exercise are made possible
  • It generates higher calorie consumption, making it more efficient for weight loss programmes
  • Because of its high level of safety, it is more suitable, for example, for a sports room where no accompanying physiotherapist is present

The advantages of circuit training

We have discussed using strength training equipment with specific target groups and in institutions such as rehabilitation centres: circuit training. Circuit training is a type of exercise in which different activities are performed succeeding without or with very short breaks, to increase strength and endurance. The whole body is alternately trained, addressing various muscle groups. Because the exercises are individually adaptable regarding intensity and frequency, circuit training is very accessible. The fact that this kind of training is usually done in groups is the icing on the cake thanks to its social and motivational aspect.

Key muscle groups and some associated specific muscles that can be addressed:

  • Abdominal muscles (m. rectus abdominis, m. obliquus externus abdominis)
  • Back muscles (m. erector spinae)
  • Arm muscles (m. triceps brachii, m. biceps brachii)
  • Chest and shoulder muscles (m. pectoralis major, m. deltoideus)
  • Hip and knee muscles (mm. quadriceps, mm. hamstrings, m. poplitius, m. tensor fasciae latae, m. adductor magnus)
  • Gluteal muscles (m. gluteus maximus)
  • Calf and shin muscles (m. gastrocnemius, m. soleus, m. tibialis anterior)

Circuit training with hydraulic equipment is an optimal combination

Based on the advantages mentioned above of the hydraulic system and circuit training, combining the two would be ideal. Gymna's W-Move line, a series of nine fitness machines, meets this need. The line also has the following additional benefits:

  • By broadening the offer in your practice, you can address a new target group, such as the elderly or rehabilitation groups 
  • Complete training concept (possibility to continue working out at the practice instead of at the gym after completion of therapy: from patient to client)
  • Customer loyalty (responding to new needs)
  • Low space requirements (less than 20m²)
  • User-friendly (exercises speak for themselves)
  • Easy to move (compact design and easy to set up, also useful for multi-purpose room)

If you want additional information about the Gymna training equipment, particularly the W-Move, don't hesitate to contact us.



[1] Lacroix, A., Hortobágyi, T., Beurskens, R. et al. Effects of Supervised vs Unsupervised Training Programs on Balance and Muscle Strength in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 47, 2341–2361 (2017). [2] Hong AR, Kim SW. Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Dec;33(4):435-444. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2018.33.4.435. PMID: 30513557; PMCID: PMC6279907 [3] Strength training increases maximum working capacity in patients with COPD – Randomized clinical trial comparing three training modalities, Karin Vonbank, et al. Respiratory Medicine, Volume 106, Issue 4, 2012 [4] Rehabilitation (exercise and strength training) and osteoarthritis: A critical narrative review, Christelle Nguyen, Marie-Martine Lefèvre-Colau, Serge Poiraudeau, François Rannou, Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Volume 59, Issue 3,2016 [5] The effects of strength and endurance training in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Strasser, B., Leeb, G., Strehblow, C. et al. Clin Rheumatol 30, 623–632 (2011). [6] Beyer N, Suetta C. [Older patients should be offered strength training early post surgery]. Ugeskrift for Laeger. 2013 Oct;175(41):2421-2424. PMID: 24630198.