May: “Exercise is Medicine” Month


How often does your doctor tell you that you need to exercise more?

Every time you go? Only once before? Never?

Does YOUR doctor exercise regularly?

Exercise is the most underutilized drug on the  market. Did you know that physical INactivity is the 4th leading cause of death worldwide? It contributes to about 3.3 million deaths per year. That’s scary stuff!

The U.S. Physical Guidelines along with numerous studies show that a minimum of 150 minutes of  moderate intensity physical activity per week can be enough to reap the benefits of exercise.

Over half of adults do not meet this recommendation-56% to be exact.

A further 36% of adults get ZERO leisure physical activity a week.

The cost of physical inactivity costs the U.S. Health Care System almost $102 billion annually.

40% of U.S. primary care doctors and 36% of U.S. medical students do not meet the physical activity guidelines. If your doctor is physically inactive, they are less likely to prescribe exercise to their clients and become less credible role models for adopting healthy behaviors.

Only 34% of U.S. adults report having received exercise counseling at their last check-up.

This needs to change. Physical inactivity increases your risk of disease including cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, and obesity. It costs you and the U.S. hundreds of dollars a year on medication and treatment of these diseases. You are setting a bad example for your family by not exercising regularly.

The American College of Sports Medicine manages a global health initiative called Exercise is Medicine (EIM). EIM is “focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. EIM is committed to the belief that exercise and physical activity are integral to the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and should be regularly assessed as part of medical care” (ACSM).

I have the EIM Level 2 Credential. In my years of working in this industry, I’ve trained many clients who came to me because their doctor told them to. I’ve trained clients with: cancer, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, heart disease, one who had a pacemaker, high cholesterol, adult obesity, childhood obesity, scoliosis, arthritis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and pre-Alzheimer’s.

While working with these clients is challenging and sometimes sad, every single one saw an improvement in their health through exercise. One client was able to get off her cholesterol medication completely during her time working with me. Another was able to fight through her anxiety and learned to come to the gym on her own. One of the childhood obesity clients went on to play sports and learned to enjoy exercising and eating healthy. He even got his mom into exercising!

I have tons of stories like this. I could go on forever but the point is-exercise WORKS. If you’re still not convinced here are some numbers:

Regular physical activity can:

  • Reduce mortality and recurrence of breast cancer by approx. 50%
  • Lower risk of colon cancer by 60%
  • Reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approx. 40%
  • Reduce risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by approx. 40%
  • Lower risk of stroke by 27%
  • Lower risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%
  • Be twice as effective in treating type II diabetes than the standard insulin prescription
  • Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or therapy
  • Increase muscle strength which results in a 20% lower risk of mortality
  • Leads to higher SAT scores in adolescents
  • Decreases disciplinary  incidents in elementary school settings by 59%
  • Improves overall quality of life and health
  • Increases work productivity
  • Increases cognitive function in children, youth, adults, and older adults
  • Increased savings through reduced health care costs

And there’s more, which you can find on the ACSM website, which I will link at the end of this article.

So, with all this research proving how beneficial exercise is, why are so many adults falling short of the 150-minute recommendation?

Is it time?

150 minutes per week is ONLY 21.5 minutes A DAY. I have a hard time believing that 56% of people can’t dedicate 21.5 minutes of their day to exercise. I get 20+ minutes just walking to the train to and from work! How can you add more minutes of exercise to your day?

  • Walk or bike to work
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator in your office
  • Go for a walk at lunch
  • Stand, instead of sit, at your desk
  • Go for “walking meetings”-instead of sitting in a conference room, walk around the office and meet “on the go”
  • For every hour a day that you sit, walk for at least 5 minutes (that’s 40 minutes total if you sit for 8 hours!). Get up once every hour and walk. around the office, outside, to the bathroom, whatever!
  • Block out time in your schedule to work out. Like actually block it out on your computer so no one can schedule anything with you during that time! (I’ve said this before in previous articles, but it really helps!)
  • Take an exercise class
  • Schedule time with a personal trainer and DON’T CANCEL
  • Talk to your doctor about how exercise can help you

If you struggle to meet the recommendations, take a look at your week and try to figure out how you can add more exercise to it. Do you get home from work and lay on the couch for two hours before you make dinner? Use that time to go to the gym or do a workout at home! Do you spend hours watching Netflix or browsing the internet? Sacrifice one of those hours and EXERCISE!

Is it because they don’t know what to do in the gym?

Take a class! Or buy a workout DVD and do it from the comfort of your own home. Classes are great because they get you moving, you can do it with a group of friends, and you can just turn your brain off and follow what the instructor does. If gyms and classes intimidate you, working out at home is the next best thing. As long as you get moving and complete at least 21.5 minutes, you’re good to go!

Is it because they need to be held accountable?

If you have a hard time getting to the gym, one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable is to hire a trainer. This way, you’ll have a scheduled meeting time, and cancelling will make you feel guilty!

Online coaching can also work and is often a more financially-safe option. You still have to report to a trainer and you are still held accountable for your workouts, but it’s often much cheaper than hiring someone in a gym.

If you need some extra help and motivation, shoot me an email at! I’m always happy to help and I am taking on new online coaching clients right now!


Sources and further reading:

Click to access 2016%20EIM%20month%20toolkit.pdf





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