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Fitness Study Shows: Doctors Should Advise Against Inactivity

exercise guideleines ACSMHow many minutes you exercise each week should be a mandatory and primary question during your bi-annual physical said a new study published by the American College of Sports Medicine. Data published in a recent edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that asking patients about their exercise habits could be an important piece of a patient’s care and treatment that is often ignored.

“This research offers preliminary support that implementing an exercise vital sign in addition to the traditional vital signs — pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and respirations — in a large healthcare system is very possible and would offer many benefits as well as additional patient data,” said the primary investigator, Karen Coleman, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Research and Evaluation.

The authors reviewed two years of data from more than 1.7 million outpatient visits to Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Kaiser Permanente began using the exercise vital sign in October 2009. Patients are routinely asked questions about their usual daily levels of activity and are assigned a minutes-per-week value based on their answer.

Using a regression model, this study demonstrated that a greater disease burden increased the likelihood of physical inactivity among the sample patient population. As expected, researchers also found lower activity levels among patients who were older, obese or members of ethnic minorities.

“There is no better indicator of a person’s health and longevity than the minutes per week of activity a patient engages in,” insisted Robert E. Sallis, M.D., Chairman of the Exercise is Medicine® advisory board and on study author. “When incorporated in a healthcare setting, the exercise vital sign can be an important tool for prevention and management of disease.”

Basically, your doctor is remiss if she does not question you about exercise, intensity and duration. Dr. Coleman also said if your practitioner notes excess body weight, even sudden weight gain, some mention of diet and nutrition is extremely helpful to any patient.

Do you ever discuss a healthy diet or exercise with your healthcare practitioner? Report new wellness studies here!

Photo credit: Chris Fanning

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