July 5, 2016
Something else that shows up frequently in CJSM media: research on the benefits of physical activity. And so it’s not surprising to see in our current issue that CASEM is taking a hard look at the issue of “Exercise is Medicine” and is publishing with CJSM (and other journals) a position statement on the “Physical Activity Prescription: A Critical Opportunity to Address a Modifiable Risk Factor for the Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease.”
The list of authors involved is a list of sports medicine heavyweights, including several MD/PhDs who have a presence on social media: if you are not currently following folks like lead author Jane Thornton MD, PhD and former CASEM President Pierre Frémont MD, PhD and BJSM Editor-in-chief Karim Khan MD, PhD….you should.
These ‘doctor doctors,’ as I like to call my colleagues who have fought the good fight to earn an MD and a PhD, have produced a powerful statement that will have significant influence on how physicians can play a role in addressing the worldwide crisis of sedentary behavior. The global problem of inactivity especially in children has been an ongoing concern of mine, and it has puzzled me that when I have spoken on this issue I frequently find that physicians feel as if they are on the sideline of this battle. We collectively throw up our hands and say the problem is too big, or it’s not a clinical medicine problem it’s a public health issue.
But our patients are looking to us for guidance on this issue. They really do ‘want the news.’ As the authors note in the position statement, “Over 80% of Canadians visit their doctors every year and prefer to get health information directly from their family physician. Unfortunately, most physicians do not regularly assess or prescribe physical activity as part of routine care, and even when discussed, few provide specific recommendations.“
They continue, “Physical activity prescription has the potential to be an important therapeutic agent for all ages in primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of chronic disease.” Indeed, Robert Palmer, the singer of “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)” fame, could not have known how prescient he was when he penned the lyrics, “no pill’s gonna cure my ill…..” He was talking about love, but he may as well have been talking about the chronic diseases associated with physical inactivity. Prescribing a pill won’t cure this ill: the physical activity prescription, delivered and acted upon, is required.
The beauty of this position statement is that it gives evidence-based tools that primary care physicians as well as sports and exercise medicine physicians can use in their practice to stem the tide of the inactivity epidemic. I know this statement will be widely read and disseminated; it will be referenced frequently. I am looking forward even more to seeing its principles put in action by me and my colleagues, around the world–both in our clinics and in the venues where we train future physicians.
Look it over now. It’s free! What’s stopping you?