Physical activity is medicine: Prescribe it

Physical activity is medicine: Prescribe it

Therapeutics Letter No. 137 (May-June 2022) is one of Therapeutics Initiative’s first evidence-based Letters that does not reference prescription drug therapy.  The new Letter, entitled “Physical activity is medicine: Prescribe it”, is encouraging health care providers to write activity or exercise prescriptions (ExRx) for their patients.  Eighty percent (80%) of Canadians do not meet internationally recommended standards for physical activity of at least 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.  It is well known that physical activity or exercise can prevent or delay serious illness and help manage chronic conditions, once established.

Dr. Josh Levin, a family physician at the Aroga Lifestyle Medicine clinic in Victoria, BC, says:

“Most Canadians don’t get a healthy amount of physical activity or exercise.  We need to do more to encourage them, to prevent premature illness, disability, and death.

“Before writing a drug prescription, or even when we do, we should reach for the exercise prescription pad.  Physical activity doesn’t have to take place in a gym or community centre, but it does need to be frequent and year-round. 

“I’ve learned in my medical practice that many people appreciate it when I take time to provide simple advice to increase their physical activity. Then I remind them about it in follow-up visits.”

“This is an important part of keeping our health care system sustainable.”

Therapeutics Letter No. 137 reviews scientific evidence about health benefits of exercise and concludes that primary care providers should make ExRx a standard part of their practice. The Letter also includes a list of top 10 physical activity resources for physicians (MDs), nurse practitioners (NPs), patients, or anyone else, as well as the video recording of a presentation on this topic given by Dr. Josh Levin at TI’s BRINGING BEST EVIDENCE TO CLINICIANS annual educational event/half-day conference on October 16, 2021.

Listen to Dr. Josh Levin being interviewed on this topic by Stephen Quinn, the host of the Early Edition CBC Radio program on July 13, 2022 (7 minutes)

CHEKNEWS (Victoria) news report, July 14, 2022: A doctor’s note for physical activity? One Victoria doctor wants more to prescribe it (with video)

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