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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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F.I.T.T.: The Wonder Drug: Exercise is Medicine™


Associate Director, Amy Rauworth
Associate Director, Amy Rauworth
Does your medicine cabinet look like a pharmacy? How much do you spend on medical care? What if I told you that there is a wonder drug and it is available to everyone at no cost? Sounds too good to be true…but it’s not!

Robert Butler, Founding Director of the National Institute on Aging said:“If exercise could be manufactured into a pill, it would be the single most prescribed medication in the world.”

When thinking of exercise, the first thing that comes to many of our minds may be losing weight or getting into shape. While improving or maintaining your physique can indeed be one of the rewards of participating in physical activity, there are many more benefits one can garner from engaging in a regular exercise program. Physical inactivity is a primary risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight/obesity, and diabetes. Becoming and staying active may be crucial to preventing the development of chronic and/or secondary conditions, both for people with and without disabilities. As fitness and health care professionals, we must inform the public about the latest and greatest wonder drug.

The Wonder Drug: Side Effects

The side effects of physical activity include lowering risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer. Exercise can also reduce total blood cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol, as well as improve insulin sensitivity. Engaging in physical activity may result in reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins and can produce feelings of well-being. Physical activity provides an outlet for socialization and stress release.

Exercise helps to build healthy bones, muscles, and joints, may help one’s immune system ward off illness and infection, can increase blood flow to all parts of the body, relieve chronic pain and fibromyalgia, and improve ability to perform activities of daily living. A regular exercise program may allow you to maintain or extend independence and mobility into older age. Physical activity can also save us all money by reducing health care costs, increasing productivity, improving performance in schools, lowering worker absenteeism and turnover, and increasing productivity.

Exercise is Medicine™

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, http://www.acsm.org) and the American Medical Association (AMA, http://www.ama-assn.org/) have launched an exciting initiative called Exercise is Medicine™. The goal of the Exercise is Medicine™ program is to encourage physicians to record physical activity as a vital sign during patient visits. Patients will be advised to participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity and 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days a week.

May-Kit Happen in May!

May is the special recognition month for Exercise is Medicine™. It will be a time for physicians, health and fitness professionals, the public, and supporting organizations and constituents to recognize, emphasize, and celebrate the valuable health benefits of exercise.

May-Kit Happen features new resources and ideas on the importance of Exercise is Medicine™ that allow you to participate in your professional and community settings. The website http://www.exerciseismedicine.org contains educational materials and toolkits for physicians to use in their practices. The site also includes information for patients, the media, and policymakers, as well as a listing of supporting organizations.

May Kit Happen in your community and spread the word about the latest wonder drug!


For comments and feedback, please feel free to contact Amy Rauworth at amyr@lakeshore.org.


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