The time for incorporating exercise and fitness into a patient’s overall healthcare plan is here. Not only does the research over the past 3 decades support it, but professional organizations like the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine are urging doctors and other healthcare professionals to prescribe exercise to their patients. In fact, with the launch of the Exercise Is Medicine initiative, all physicians are encouraged to address exercise in all treatment plans and “with every patient visit.”
Yet, most physicians are reluctant to heed the call. At best, doctors are more likely to recommend walking as exercise. With all the great advancements in structured exercise approaches and protocols, you would think that the whole idea of using exercise as a bona fide treatment protocol would be further along.
But it’s not, and there are two glaring reasons that may not be so obvious to both patients and fitness professionals.
Doctors Don’t Have The Exercise Mindset
Physicians are regular people. They enter medicine for a whole host of reasons, study longer than most people who go to college, dedicate themselves to serving others, strive to perfect their skills, and look forward to achieving some level of satisfaction for all they do for others. But over time, they end up doing a mundane, day-in-day-out job just like everyone else. Most doctors’ jobs are not as glamorous as what you see on TV, and they don’t make nearly as much money as you would think. About 50-70% of the care the average doctor delivers goes uncompensated, the work is dangerous (job-related death is double that of a policeman) and can be nasty.
Even with having a strong foundation in the medical sciences, you would think that doctors would see the logic of making exercise part of a patient’s overall treatment plan. But most people, including fitness professionals, fail to realize that practicing medicine has NOTHING to do with exercise. Practicing medicine has to do with illness, disability, self-abuse, psychological dependency, poor functional ability and generally an unwillingness on the part of the patient to participate in any self-improvement
So while physicians may have the ‘academic equipment’ to use exercise as part of their treatment plan for the patients they encounter, it’s difficult for them to have a mindset to do so, even when the people they treat have the need.
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