Prescribing Exercise for Good Health

January 1, 2008

About 25% of patients seek advice on exercise and physical activity from their physician, according to a recent survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The survey also showed that about 65% of patients would be more interested in exercising to stay healthy if their physician offered recommendations and resources.

About 25% of patients seek advice on exercise and physical activity from their physician, according to a recent survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The survey also showed that about 65% of patients would be more interested in exercising to stay healthy if their physician offered recommendations and resources.1

To help make physical activity and exercise a standard part of disease prevention and treatment, the ACSM joined forces with the American Medical Association to launch Exercise Is Medicine, a new physician and patient awareness program. The major goals of this national initiative include the following:

  • Create broad awareness among patients and clinicians that exercise is good medicine.
  • Include "level of physical activity" as a standard vital sign question in each patient visit.
  • Help physicians and other health care providers become consistently effective in counseling patients about their physical activity needs and in making appropriate referrals. Able patients should be encouraged to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity and 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training 5 days a week. (Examples of moderate and vigorous physical activities are listed in the Table.)
  • Initiate policy changes in the public and private sectors that support physical activity counseling and referrals in clinical settings.
  • Produce an expectation in patients that their health care provider will ask about and prescribe exercise.
  • Encourage health care providers to be physically active.

For more information about the Exercise Is Medicine program and educational materials and tools that can be used in practice, visit the Web site at www.exerciseismedicine.org. Or, visit the ACSM Web site at www.acsm.org, or contact the organization at PO Box 1440, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1440. The telephone number is 317-637-9200; fax number, 317-634-7817.

References:

REFERENCES:


1.

Exercise Is Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine. Available at:

http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/about.htm

. Accessed December 18, 2007.

2.

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. US Department of Health and Human Services. Council Publications. Energy Expenditure Chart. Available at:

http://www.fitness.gov/exerciseweight.htm

. Accessed December 18, 2007.