Emphasizing The Importance Of Exercise In Improving Health

Matt Werd, DPM

   What if there were one prescription that could prevent and help treat dozens of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity? Exercise is that prescription and physicians and healthcare providers need to prescribe it to patients who are not exercising regularly.

   Exercise is Medicine™ is an important new initiative being promoted to all physicians and healthcare providers. The program is a shared vision of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Medical Association (AMA). Exercise is Medicine is designed to help improve the health and well being of our nation through a regular physical activity prescription from doctors, including podiatric physicians and other healthcare providers. Each podiatrist should become a vital part of this bold new initiative and incorporate its message into daily practice.

   The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) is actively participating in this endeavor. This past spring, our Academy co-signed a letter to the United States House and Senate leadership in support of reviewing and publishing physical activity guidelines every five years in order to address America’s emergent public health issues. The epidemic of obesity leads these issues today. However, if we have success with implementing physical activity benchmarks for our citizens, we may begin to lessen the epidemic and improve health trends.

   The guiding principles of this exercise program have been well documented in a new textbook called Exercise Is Medicine. This book has the support of the ACSM and is written by Harvard-trained Steven Jonas, MD, MPH.
Dr. Jonas emphasizes the importance of exercise and regular physical activity for health and how they play significant roles in prevention and treatment for many chronic diseases. He also urges all physicians and other healthcare providers to do more to address physical activity and exercise in healthcare settings.

   Healthcare organizations (including the AAPSM), physicians and other professionals, regardless of specialty, are being challenged to assess, to advocate for and to review every patient’s physical activity program during every comprehensive visit.

Underscoring Key Selling Points In Promoting Regular Exercise

   It has been suggested that the hardest part of “regular exercise” is the regular, not the actual exercise. Encourage unfit patients to undertake healthy lifestyle changes. These changes include regular exercise, smoking cessation and consuming smaller, healthier food portions. Be a role model for patients and lead by example.

   The U.S. Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Steven Galson, MD, MPH, and Robert E. Sallis, MD, the Immediate Past-President of the ACSM, recently presented the foundation for the Exercise is Medicine initiative at the ACSM’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. Listed below are highlights, which DPMs can use to discuss with patients, friends and families.

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