The recent USA CDC report states that 1 in 3 doctors are now giving exercise advice to patients as part of their medical treatment. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db86.pdf
So what about the other two patients who don't receive exercise advice and support? What steps are being taken to improve their access to the best evidence based medical care on preventing and treating their long term health problems?
A patients inactivity is a medical 'vital sign' : http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/45/6/473.full.pdf so doctors should be giving exercise advice to patients routinely.
So during consutations with health professionals, why aren't patients asking for exercise support and direction as a 'vital' part of their medical care? What are health systems such as the NHS and Kaiser Permanante doing about enabling patients to access exercise as part of their long term health care?
If exercise is an important part of healthy lifestyles ( see Dr Mike Evans 23 1/2 hours brilliant video on why exercise is the single most important health intervention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo ) then why aren't more patients able to get great exercise advice?
Exercise advice and support should be part of every care pathway for patients. Patient's should know its a great medical intervention that can improve their health and well being. Professional exercise support is in danger of becoming a post code lottery in care terms. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/apr/10/cancercare.health
As a patient, if you had cancer, you'd expect the best oncologist, the best radiotherapist, the best Macmillan care, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/apr/10/cancercare.health .....
So why expect less from exercise advice and support?! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14417084
But lets assume that as a patient you have diabetes, or ....heart disease, cancer, obesity, Parkinsons disease, fibromyalgia, low back pain, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, ..wouldn't you want your health professionals to be able to give you the best exercise advice. Wouldn't you want to know that ballet or nordic walking works well for Parkinson's disease, or that aqua aerobics is good if you have joint problems?
Wouldn't you want your doctor to give great walking advice to you and all of your family?
So patients everywhere: I have a very special request! PLEASE start asking for exercise advice from your health professionals and carers. By using patient power, we may just start to see a health care system that proactively enables patients to access one of the best 21 st century medical interventions we have!
Join our #changinglives campaign @exerciseworks and help change our health services for the better. You might even find you enjoy and feel better from regular, fun exercise ;)
Ann Gates BPharm(Hons) MRPharmS
Personal Trainer, NCD Exercise Specialist, BACPR Exercise Specialist and on a mission: exercise advice, every patient, every opportunity!