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Kaiser study: Two-thirds of those reviewed do not perform regular physical activity

October 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
How often does your doctor give you an exercise prescription? Research scientists at Kaiser Permanente think that asking about activity levels should be a key part of every doctor visit. A review of their electronic medical records reveals a clear picture of how many of us actually exercise.

A new Kaiser Permanente study finds regular exercisers are in the minority.

"We had about 2 million members in the study and a third of them are meeting recommendations for regular physical activity," said Kaiser Permanente research scientist Dr. Karen Coleman.

Coleman says asking about patients' exercise habits should be as important as monitoring blood pressure, temperature and weight.

"Exercise is a core health indicator, so people who don't exercise are just as likely to get heart disease as someone with high blood pressure or someone who is obese," said Coleman.

Researchers say you should think of exercise as a pill: It may be difficult to take, meaning difficult to incorporate into your day, but Coleman says if you swallow this "pill" you may not have to swallow others.

"Think about exercise first: It does work and with a little bit of coaching and help I think we can prevent a lot of people from going on medication," said Coleman.

Numerous studies show people who are accountable to a workout partner or trainer are more likely to reach their exercise goals.

Coleman says Kaiser doctors follow the recommendations of the Exercise is Medicine Task Force. The goal is to get healthcare providers to consider exercise as a vital sign and to effectively counsel patients about it.


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