Prescribing Exercise: Doctors Need to Re-Think the Prescription Pad
Physicians write more than 3.4 million prescriptions annually for drugs to treat ailments that many times could have been prevented or mitigated with a recommendation of daily exercise. In fact drugs are mentioned in 70% of office visits while exercise is rarely discussed.
Simply walking 10,000 steps per day ( 5 miles) suggested as a minimum by the Surgeon General has already been proven to have tremendous health benefits when combined with a healthy lifestyle:
- Reduce initial heart attacks in the US by 90% (source: AHA)
- Reduce incidence of stroke by 70% (source: AHA)
- Reduce Type 2 Diabetes by 50% (source: ADA)
- Reduce Cancers 30%-70% (source: NIH)
Those are powerful numbers yet in recent studies it has been shown that less than 5% of Americans engage in regular exercise, most relate food preparation as their most active period of the day and the average American walks less than 5,000 steps per day.
Small wonder we are in the health mess we are in today however why such dismal numbers in regards to more than 788,000 active US physicians who should be advising patiients to exercise?
According to a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 92 percent of patients agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: "If my doctor advised me to exercise, I would follow his or her advice." Additionally, a public opinion survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) found that nearly two-thirds of patients (65%) would be more interested in exercising to stay healthy if advised by their doctor and given additional resources.
In the nation's initial National Physical Activity Plan, released this past May 2010, physicians were advised to make physical activity a patient "vital sign" and to establish physical inactivity as a treatable and preventable condition with profound health implications.
Sedentary disease is now on the national radar and it should be your top priority as well.
A call to action, rallying physicians behind a national effort to get people moving, underscores the tremendous role that doctors can play in changing the sedentary nature of current American culture.
We would take it one step further, ask your doctor their thoughts on exercise and its impact on your health along with a suggested regemine that fits your lifestyle. They should be happy to assist otherwise we would strongly recommend a new physician.