The Exercise is Medicine movement is aimed at changing the way you think about staying healthy and fighting disease.
When you think about treatment options for life-altering medical conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, you’re likely to think about prescription medications, physical therapy, surgery, and other forms of treatment typically recommended or scheduled by highly trained doctors.
Exercise is often considered an alternative treatment or a method of prevention, but the American College of Sports medicine and the American Medical Association have started a movement to change that way of thinking.
The foundation for this movement is a unique program referred to as Exercise is Medicine or EIM.
Professionals working with the program find exercise professionals and programs that meet specific criteria and then catalogue them as EIM-credentialed fitness providers. Doctors and other medical professionals are then encouraged to include exercise in treatment plans by referring patients to these credentialed providers.
Fitness professionals are also encouraged to make connections with medical professionals. While this may help many personal trainers and fitness programs enlist new recruits, that isn’t the focus of the EIM movement. The goal is to encourage medical and fitness professionals to work together for the greater good of individual patients and society at large.
Anything that can effectively restore or preserve health is a form of medicine. Most people have grown accustomed to thinking of prescription medications as the only true forms of medicine, but many over-the-counter supplements, herbs, and natural oils have a powerful impact on the body.
Nontraditional treatments like acupuncture are also starting to gain respect for their ability to heal and protect the body.
Many medical professionals now make dietary recommendations for patients with specific health conditions, and the Exercise is Medicine movement aims to make exercise a frequent recommendation as well.
There are many ways in which exercise is proven to heal and protect the human body, including these options offered in a 2016 Time magazine article:
A lot of these benefits focus on using exercise for depression and other psychological problems, but note that there is research proving that exercise can help many people recover from surgery and serious illnesses. Exercise is also a proven way to prevent and overcome many diseases that are rooted in poor lifestyle decisions.
For example, people suffering from type II diabetes have an easier time controlling their blood glucose levels with daily exercise, and those who follow a low-calorie diet while increasing their activity level often lose enough weight to eliminate diabetes entirely.
Imagine if you could bottle a pill that was highly likely to eliminate diabetes when taken daily. It would fly off the shelves.
What the Exercise is Medicine movement aims to teach people is that they don’t need a prescription for this medication. Exercise is a powerful medication when used consistently and effectively. Furthermore, anyone can move more in some way, so this is a universal and all-inclusive treatment option.
If you’re a fitness professional, start making connections with doctors and medical professionals in your local area. Connect with them online. Encourage your clients to meet with their doctors and discuss what they’re doing with their fitness plan.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a fitness professional, you can start making a connection between your medical life and your fitness life. Educate yourself about the medical benefits of exercise so that you can use it to prevent and treat conditions that may impact you now or in the future.
The more we all start thinking of exercise as medicine, the longer and happier we all may live.
What doctors don't know about the drugs they prescribe. Watch on YouTube.