Prescribing Exercise

Maybe it’s because at Wellpepper we’re quite active–a recent weekend saw us running, skiing and snowboarding, and rock climbing–but it’s a bit surprising to us that the merits of exercise as a prescription for health are still being proven.

Cross country skiing is a great workout!

Cross country skiing is a great workout!

For example, it’s not regular practice for doctors to tell people to get active. However, many doctors are not active themselves and if they don’t have the experience, then it’s hard for them to recommend the benefits. The US Center for Disease Control recently collated results from a number of studies that showed that doctors who exercise themselves are more likely to prescribe exercise.

The findings showed that active physicians were two to five times more likely to recommend fitness regimens than those doctors who led physically inactive lives. Link to full story.

The NHS in Scotland is piloting an intervention where doctors recommend and prescribe physical activity. Again, a very helpful intervention, but why is it a pilot and not a practice?

Increasing physical activity is a simple, cheap and highly effective way of both staying healthy if you are well, and reducing the health risks of many chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. It works at any age. RCGP Scotland is happy to support this initiative, which will give GPs vital information on how to help patients increase activity and improve their health. John Gillies, Chair of Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland. Link to full story

The problem seems to start earlier. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that doctors are not taught about the benefits of exercise.

This gap in knowledge means that future doctors will have insufficient knowledge to effectively promote physical activity to their patients, which results in a failure to help combating serious diseases that are linked to insufficient exercise according to the study authors. Link to full story

First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative pinpoints that the problem actually starts a lot earlier.

Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.

This is in contrast to the current situation where diets regularly include junk and where kids are driven to and from school and scheduled appointments. The Let’s Move campaign is looking to change this situation through education on healthy habits: eating well and exercising. Great campaign, just sad that we got to this state.

At Wellpepper we were fortunate to have had active parents, role models, and the encouragement “to get outside when the sun was shining” from a young age.  Added to that the wisdom of Hal and Joanne at Participaction to help instill good habits in our formative years. 😉

We’re building a healthcare technology business starting from exercise program prescription and adherence. It’s been surprising to us that the benefits still need to be proven, but we’re looking forward to helping in that area through the data we collect and resarchers we’re working with.

As Hal and Joanne say, until next time “Keep fit and have fun.”

Posted in: Exercise Physiology, Managing Chronic Disease

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