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Exercise as Prevention

by ACSM December 2, 2009

People on bicycles

As Congress wrestles with complex, contentious issues of health care reform, I’d like to propose a step anyone can take to improve health and likely cut health care costs. This isn’t a legislative bombshell—I’ll leave that for the politicians. And it isn’t a new idea, though research keeps adding to the body of supporting evidence. Let me help you make the case for physical activity.

 

It’s not about exercising for weight loss, though most people know there’s a connection. Simply put, I’m advocating physical activity for health. Exercise repeatedly has been shown to help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, hypertension, depression and anxiety, and even some forms of cancer. Surely, if there were a pill with all these benefits (along with some very pleasant side effects), everybody would ask to have it prescribed.

 

Truly, exercise IS medicine, and it’s readily available to everyone. Very little is required to get started: a pair of walking shoes, or maybe a jump-rope. Playing with your children is free of charge. (I highly recommend it, and I don’t even know your kids.) People of any physical condition can become more active and start feeling better. No prescription is needed, though more and more physicians are calling for specific doses of exercise for their patients.

 

On the job and active

Employers, squeezed ‘til it hurts by soaring costs, have found that it pays to encourage employees to be physically active. Published reports on workplace wellness programs show that cost savings for every dollar invested range from $2.90 (Prudential Insurance) to $5.96 (Bank of America). DuPont reported a 14-percent decline in absent days among blue-collar workers. Pacific Bell’s FitWorks program saved $2 million and $4.7 million in short-term disability costs in just one year.

 

Workplace wellness programs bring other benefits, too. Fit Swedish workers committed 27 percent fewer errors on tasks involving concentration and short-term memory, and a Canadian program found that 47 percent of employee wellness program participants felt more alert, had better rapport with co-workers, and generally enjoyed their work more.

 

Bottom line

Sure, it’s great to save those dollars—particularly nowadays—but the total benefits are incalculable. What price can you put on feeling better, living longer, or avoiding a debilitating illness? Think about ramping up your level of physical activity, and bring someone along with you. If you need help getting started, you’ll find plenty of resources on the Exercise is Medicine website.

 

It may take Congress a while yet to figure out health care reform. Meanwhile, I vote for healthy lifestyles as prevention. All in favor? Please share your organization’s perspectives on exercise as medicine.

 

What is your organization's perspective and involvement in the topic of exercise as prevention?

Comments

12/4/2009 9:54:01 AM #

The data shows that physical activity programs save money and improve health as you mention throughout your post. This is an important piece to include in the health care reform puzzle.

Karen United States |

12/11/2009 6:02:45 PM #

I applaud any approach that educates people towards the benefits of movement during the day. At times the term exercise scares individuals with visions of strenuous efforts that they have become conditioned to avoid. The work place is an area where a total re-engineering needs to occur. Incorporating movement into the workday is essential in restoring the health of our nation. Treadmill desks such as the TrekDesk allow workers to walk while they work at slow speeds without sweating. Continual movement encouraged through the day will add energy, vitality, and productivity into employees lives and go a long way towards ending this escalating trend of obesity in our nation.

Steve United States |

1/6/2010 3:16:03 PM #

The Exercise is Medicine movement is a tremendously exciting development for the health promotion field.

I'm certain that the presentation by Dr. Edward Phillips, the co-author of ACSM's "Exercise is Medicine," will be one of the most popular at the upcoming IHRSA Convention in March 2010.

Tom Richards, IHRSA United States |

11/15/2010 9:24:25 AM #

you should be able to have fun while you exercise. it is work but it doesn't have to be hard.

Samm<3 United States |

11/15/2010 9:24:48 AM #

YOU SHOULD BE ABLE Exercise ANY TIME AND ANY PLACE EXCEPT THE ROAD I THINK EXERCICSING IS A  GOOD WAY TO KEEP IN SHAPE!!!

Ashley<3 United States |

8/1/2011 10:50:18 PM #

Thank you very much for the contribution that you've made to this wonderful world that we live in. Lovely to know that there are people out there that want to help others.

George United States |

8/22/2011 5:32:50 PM #

I couldn't agree more with the statment that exercise is medicine. When I don't workout, I get depressed. Activity is proven to affect your mood. If you combine exercise while be mindful of what you are putting into your body via watch your calories you should noticed a change in how you feel and look. To count your calories I burn during physical activity I use this (Link Removed) (Link Removed) burning calculator</a>

Martin United States |

10/24/2011 10:43:10 PM #

Exercise repeatedly has been shown to help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, overweight and obesity, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, hypertension, depression and anxiety, and even some forms of cancer.
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James Phillips United States |

12/7/2011 12:44:04 PM #

Everyone is different so different types of diet plans work for each person. I eat five to six small meals per day to keep my metabolism going and I get about 45 minutes of cardio exercises in about three to four times a week. Foods that help me build muscle and burn fat are whole grains, fish or other foods high in protein. Fresh fruits and vegetables curb my sweet cravings and they improve my overall immune system. Many celebs eat 30 percent of carbs, 30 percent of proteins and 40 percent of fats in which seems to help me also.

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Lee United States |

2/3/2012 12:10:25 PM #


l completely agree with you about the importance of physical activity and regual execise as a means to stay heathy. To keep your weight off you've got to eat healthly, eat right and exercise regularly. lt is more of a lifestyle choice
<A HREF="(Link Removed) Loss Tips</A>

Margaret United Kingdom |

4/10/2012 8:01:30 AM #

The data shows that activity programs save money and improve health as you mention throughout your post. This is an important piece to include in the health care reform puzzle.

mortgage broker United Kingdom |

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