Diet and Nutrition

Are Doctors Prescribing Physical Activity to Patients?

Are Doctors Prescribing Physical Activity to Patients?

A recent report by the CDC shows that doctors are now asking patients to exercise as a means for a medical prescription. In 2010 one out of three patients who saw a doctor or any other healthcare professional was advised to increase his or her physical activity. In 2000, only a quarter of the patients were recommended to have regular physical exercise.

The present trend shows that the medical community is more involved in increasing the participation of patients in exercise and other forms of physical activity. This is significant, as recommendations from doctors make a difference to the patients and they are more likely to listen to them. A study conducted in 2008 shows that a doctor’s prescription increased the likelihood of exercise by an overweight patient by 5%. These patients were motivated to continue if the doctor followed up with them after the initial recommendation.

Any type of physical activity reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even depression. According to the present CDC report, doctors often gave the prescription of exercise to overweight and obese patients. In 2010, nearly half of the obese and overweight patients received the prescription to exercise when compared to one fourth of the patients who were having a healthy weight. The largest increase in exercise prescriptions were seen in Hispanic patients among all the races and ethnic groups.

The results showed a two-fold increase in the exercise recommendations among adults who were 85 years old or older, with 30% of them getting the advice in 2010. Most of the prescriptions were directed to people in the between the ages of 45 years old and 74 years old. The fewest recommendations were for adults younger than 25 years old.

There was an increase in the recommendations to patients having chronic diseases as well. Among the people with chronic diseases, one out of two people with type 2 diabetes were advised to have regular physical activity. Unlike in 2000, in 2010 more patients with stroke risk, high blood pressure, and cancer were recommended to become more physically active.