When Was the Last Time Your Doctor Wrote you a Script for Exercise?

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February 26, 2005 | 43,526 views

Most prescriptions require a trip to the local pharmacy, however,one hospital's obesity program gives out prescription scriptsfor exercise. As an attempt to battle obesity, this hospital includesa unique physical fitness program as part of the doctors' orders.

An unlikely pairing of physicians and hiking enthusiasts make upthis personalized prescription for exercise program. Experts attributethe success of the program to its individualized nature and providingthe patients with detailed trail maps to accomplish their weight-lossgoals.

The key is personalization and giving specific explanations similarto a road map on how and why one should exercise more. For example,the odds are much greater if a patient is given instructions towalk a specific trail by their house as opposed to being adviseda vague recommendation such as, "You need to exercise more."Studies support that the more specific a doctor's recommendationsare the more likely the patient will follow through with their recommendation.

One 72-year-old woman reaped great health benefits by followingher exercise prescription. In addition to losing 12 pounds, shestated it made her realize the importance of exercising for goodhealth.

For the most part the medical community has been slow to catchon to the importance of addressing lifestyle factors such as exerciseas a means to disease prevention. The main reason doctors citedfor not discussing exercise with their patients is lack of time.According to the Center for Disease Control, over half of Americansdon't exercise enough and one-quarter don't engage inany physical activity.

Experts stressed the importance of doctors making the time to talkto their patients about exercise, particularly with statistics showingthat brisk walking could reduce the risk of chronic diseases suchas heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis by 40percent.

One doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock developed a motivational weight-lossprogram to fight obesity.

The Two- to Three-Minute Exercise Prescription

The hospital would eventually like to expand their availabilityof trail maps to include varying degrees of difficulty such as easyto more challenging hikes. The majority of the $14,000 it took todevelop the program has been covered by a grant with help from theNational Park Service. Doctors in the program stated that sincethe cost of the program is minimal, if it could help even 5 percentof the participants it would be worth it.

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If you want to become healthy it is important to develop a deep appreciation of using exercise as one of the key building blocks to optimizing your health. Try viewing exercise as a drug that needs to be precisely prescribed to achieve maximum benefits.

The simple act of writing out a prescription for exercise is an excellent approach to taking a proactive approach for your health. It's also far more logical, inexpensive and actually radically reduces your risk of most every chronic disease known to man.

A daily exercise routine is one of the main factors in achieving optimal wellness.

Fortunately the government has now seen the light and is now advising that most Americans need 60-90 minutes of daily aerobic exercise. The key to exercising effectively is to make sure the variables below are properly addressed. By doing so, you will ensure all your hard efforts are not wasted and are having a positive effect on your body. To aid you in your exercise efforts, there are three important variables to keep in mind:

I encourage my patients to gradually increase the amount of time they are exercising to 60 to 90 minutes a day. Initially the frequency is daily. This is a treatment dose until they normalize their weight or insulin levels. Once normalized, they will only need to exercise three to four times a week.

You should exercise hard enough so that it is difficult to talk to someone next to you. When you are exercising that hard your cardiovascular system is under such a significant amount of stress that the mere act of talking makes you unable to provide your body with enough oxygen. However, if you cannot carry on a conversation AT ALL, then you have gone too far and need to decrease the intensity.

I've devoted many pages on my Web site to the wonderful benefits exercise will do for your health. If you need some direction to get started, I urge you to review my beginner's exercise page that includes links to other pages and a free table you can download to keep track of your progress.