|Exercise Instead of Aspirin?
Interestingly enough, we are starting to see a shift in the recommendations doctors’ prescribing practices. Many doctors are now realizing the importance of regular sustained exercise on overall health and well-being.
In my reading, I came across an interesting partnership between physicians and hiking enthusiasts. This new program involves several dozen doctors writing detailed, albeit symbolic, prescriptions for getting fit and then giving patients trail maps to accomplish it.
"The idea is to make a more specific explanation," said Dr. Charles Brackett, director of the program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
"You can say, 'Walk this trail near your house twice a day,' as opposed to, 'You're supposed to exercise more.'"
These people have something right! Personalized exercise (and diets) are key. In weight-obsessed America — where two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese — follow-through on fitness and nutrition can be as much a problem as not knowing what to do. At Caring Medical, we will help you devise a nutrition and exercise plan that keep you active for life!
Studies show that the more specific a doctor's advice, the more likely a patient is to heed it. While these “hiking prescriptions” aren't technically real, the hope is that the format makes the advice hard to ignore.
This article went on to tell us about a patient named Gloria Beattie, a 72-year-old woman for whom Brackett prescribed fitness in December. Winter weather so far has kept her off the hiking trails, but the prescription motivated her to get on her treadmill.
Before that, the overweight woman got little exercise, adding to her existing health problems. Since starting her exercise program, she has already lost 12 pounds and is eager for spring so she can head outdoors.
She reported in the article, "If no one says anything, you just keep letting it go. But if they talk to you and explain why you need it ... you finally come to the realization that exercise is really the thing that you need."
“Using the power of the prescription pad to encourage physical fitness isn't new, but in general medicine it is rare. Though so-called exercise prescriptions are widely used by doctors at obesity clinics, the practice hasn't caught on with general practitioners.
In fact, few primary care doctors talk about fitness and weight loss at all with patients, even obese ones,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
We are amazed at the number of clients who come to Caring Medical having never been urged by their doctors to participate in exercise and weight control plans. Sometimes, our patients will tell us that they wouldn’t trust those doctors anyway, because oftentimes they themselves are unfit and unhealthy – smokers, obese, non-exercisers – just like them!
I really liked what this article had to say about prescription medications. "If a prescription for medication could reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis by 40 percent, everyone would be clamoring for it. Well, a prescription for brisk walking has the potential to do just that."
Yet, more than half of American adults continue in their inactivity, and a quarter do no physical activity at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Few doctors have embraced this approach for the same reason so many of their patients aren't out doing laps: lack of time. Many of the primary care doctors do not have the time to address these things because they are just trying to keep their heads above water dealing with “sick care.” In other words, they are avoiding talking about the very topic that will help keep their patients healthy! Our fitness coach told me one day “It’s not about finding the time to exercise, it’s about making the time!”
Dr. Hauser and I have hired an athletic coach to help us determine how to train and stay fit. We do this because we want to be accountable to someone. We do this because it motivates us to keep doing our exercises. He gives us specific things to do every day. This is what people need. It has become a part of our lives, just like eating and sleeping. The staff at Caring Medical are all committed to staying healthy. Many of us participate in various sports such as cycling, running, swimming, aerobics, yoga, weight-lifting, stretching, and gym workouts.
Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, said programs like this are badly needed because efforts to get Americans to treat exercise as recreation rather than a lifestyle generally have failed.
A doctor’s prescription for an exercise plan can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives. If you would like to find out what you should be doing to make yourself healthier, fitter, and stronger, give us a call today! We want to help you stay active for life!
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