Can Exercise Be Medicine?

Is exercise as effective at treating preventable diseases as pharmaceutical medications? Can exercise be prescribed effectively?

Are we reaching a point where not prescribing physical activity should be considered patient neglect?

These are the questions exercise professionals and researchers have been reviewing for the last few years. The answer is yes, but the practical application is much more complicated than that. Consider this post as an invitation to converse, brainstorm and collaborate on complex healthcare solutions regarding disease pandemic and system change.

It bothers me that we still have preventable disease as a high ranking morbidity in the US. Does it bother you? Does it bother you to see the word “preventable” and “morbidity” in the same sentence over and over again. Every year that the CDC releases an updated list of the top five causes of death in the country, my heart sinks. We are still treating health in terms of sick care. Providers continue to only see patients that are sick and only after their health is failing. Even then providers usually result to medication prescriptions to “treat” these conditions. This does not seem like it is working. If you read the research you will find that disease is still on the rise and people are still dying in astronomical numbers from preventable things. That is where Exercise Is Medicine comes in.

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) is a fairly new certification that health and fitness professionals can get. The program is a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). It encourages healthcare providers to use exercise and physical activity in treatment plans for patients to treat and prevent non-communicable diseases like heart disease and diabetes. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity should be regularly assessed and “treated” as part of all healthcare

Consider this quote from the Exercise Is Medicine Provider Toolkit:

“According to the World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, physical inactivity constitutes the 4th leading cause of death globally, with about 3.3 million attributed deaths per year. More recent evidence (2009) using direct measure, rather than survey data shows physical inactivity to be the leading cause of death in the U.S.”

Check out this video clip for more Information on the Exercise Is Medicine movement: