Exercise making its way to doctors’ prescription pads

So, your doctor told you to exercise, giving you what many physicians are recommending nowadays, “walking” orders” or an “exercise prescription.”

There is a reason he or she advised you to not be sedentary and begin a fitness regimen. Exercise has been proven to prevent injury and ward off disease.

The latest research documenting these benefits was reported by the Centers for Disease Control last week and featured in an article by Associated Press writer, Mike Stobbe, who wrote: “A government survey found nearly 33 percent of adults who saw a doctor in the previous year said they were told to exercise. That was up from about 23 percent in 2000.”

The CDC study reported that diabetics were among the most likely to get these orders than others with chronic conditions. Ladies, women also received this advice more than men according to the organization’s research.

The survey consisted of 22 thousand adults in the United States with many receiving recommendations to get moving, regardless of their age. “The most dramatic — and surprising — increases were reported in patients age 85 and older. In 2000, about 15 percent were told by doctors to exercise. By 2010, almost 30 percent were getting such a recommendation.”

The CDC said that in addition to “reducing the risk of chronic health conditions,” exercise has many other benefits as well, “Engaging in regular physical activity can reduce medication dependence, help maintain functional independence, and improve the quality of life for older adults.”

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) took this advice a step further in a separate study reported last year. Their research proved that in addition to the exercise prescription a counselor would also see better results overall and improved vital signs. “Research showed that patients who were given a tailored exercise prescription and behavior change counseling program by their family physician, rather than an exercise prescription alone, had a higher level of fitness and physical activity and lower systolic blood pressure.”

The lead author of the study, Dr. Robert Petrella, was also quoted on the ACSM site stating, “To really make an impact, patients need a personalized exercise plan or a recommendation to a qualified professional who can guide them along the way.”

As a trainer who has worked with many who have received these recommendations to exercise, I suggest starting off on a plan in a physical therapy setting if you have a chronic orthopedic or heart condition. That way, you can be sure you’re doing what is safe for you.

If you qualify for physical therapy the next step would then be to bridge into working with a personal trainer. A good personal trainer will do an entire health history evaluation and assessment. From there he or she will discuss your goals with you, guide you and of course motivate you.

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Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a television fitness expert, certified personal trainer and sport nutritionist. She is certified in Pilates, pre-natal/post-partum, yoga and senior fitness. She specializes in weight loss, post-rehab and post-cancer training.