Rx for Health: A Daily Dose of Exercise!

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May is Exercise is Medicine Month, recognizing that physical activity and exercise should be part of everyone's health care plan. The American College of Sports Medicine urges individuals, organizations and public agencies to observe Exercise is Medicine Month in the interest of better health for all.

Exercise is Medicine Month logo

Every person, regardless of age or health, is responsible for his or her own physical activity. There are far more reasons to exercise than excuses not to.

Health advocates and public officials around the world are getting it, with growing movements on six continents. In the U.S., with alarming increases in chronic diseases and consternation over health care costs, many see the Exercise is Medicine® initiative as part of the solution.

That philosophy is the seed for Exercise is Medicine Month, observed during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. During May, communities throughout the U.S. will hold activities that recognize that physical activity and exercise – shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases – should be part of everyone’s health care plan. Since 2008, Exercise is Medicine Month has been proclaimed by mayors, governors, Congress and the President. Individuals and organizations of all kinds, from youth groups to universities, churches, fitness centers, corporations and hospitals, hold events aimed at keeping people active and healthy.

Online toolkit
The EIM Month toolkit provides resources for those who want to promote healthy lifestyles in their communities or organizations, including:

  • Sample language for proclamations by mayors, governors or other officials
  • Letter to the Editor to be sent to local newspapers
  • Exercise is Medicine Month fact sheet and background material
  • Social media messages to be shared through Facebook and Twitter

Though Exercise is Medicine® is a global initiative, Exercise is Medicine Month is a grassroots, community-based phenomenon. Families and advocates – anyone who “gets it” – are empowered to encourage healthy lifestyles and help make physical activity part of everyone’s health care plan. From physicians who prescribe exercise to public officials seeking to control health care costs to parents who want to keep their kids healthy, EIM Month is a time to put into action what research has shown to be true.

“Everyone should start or renew an exercise program now as an investment in life-long health,” said Robert E. Sallis, M.D., FACSM, chair of Exercise is Medicine. “Every person, regardless of age or health, is responsible for his or her own physical activity. There are far more reasons to exercise than excuses not to.”

Observe Exercise is Medicine Month by taking these important steps:

Physicians: Talk with every patient about exercise and, as appropriate, refer them to a health fitness professional. Counseling them on the benefits of physical activity and what it can do for their long-term health and well-being is critical and should be a standard part of your practice.

Patients: Ask a few questions about your health status the next time you visit your doctor. Are you at a healthy weight? Taking your current health status into consideration, what types of exercise are best and safest for you? Is there a certified trainer or registered dietician you should visit to improve your health?

Parents: Give your children the gift of lifelong wellness by being a role model and supporting them in establishing a habit of lifelong physical activity. Have fun being active as a family.

About Exercise is Medicine®
Exercise is Medicine® is an initiative focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. Exercise is Medicine is committed to the belief that exercise and physical activity are integral to the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and should be regularly assessed as part of medical care. Along with the National Physical Activity Plan, Exercise is Medicine strives to make physical activity a “vital sign” that is routinely assessed at every patient interaction with a health care provider.

The guiding principles of Exercise is Medicine, a multi-organizational initiative coordinated by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), are designed to improve the health and well-being of our nation through a regular physical activity prescription from doctors and other health care providers, or from a health and fitness professional working with the health care provider. The guiding principles are as follows:

  • Exercise and physical activity are important to health and the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases.
  • More should be done to address physical activity and exercise in health care settings.
  • Multi-organizational efforts to bring a greater focus on physical activity and exercise in health care settings are to be encouraged.

Physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health problem and contributes to a variety of chronic diseases and health complications, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression and anxiety, arthritis, and osteoporosis. In addition to improving a patient’s overall health, increasing physical activity has proven effective in the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases. Therefore, Exercise is Medicine® calls on each person and all partners dedicated to the idea that exercise truly is medicine to continue to build, support and advocate for physical activity as essential for global health and wellbeing by committing to action. Policy makers are called to change policy to support physical activity as a vital sign for health. Health care providers and fitness professionals are called to integrate exercise into every patient and client interaction. Communities, workplaces and schools are called to promote physical activity as an essential part of health and wellbeing.

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Annie Bell

Dan Henkel
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