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Exercise Is Medicine 1

Exercise Is Medicine

Justyn K. Gray

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Author Note

First paragraph: Complete departmental and institutional affiliation

Second paragraph: Changes in affiliation (if any)

Third paragraph: Acknowledgments, funding sources, special circumstances

Fourth paragraph: Contact information (mailing address and e-mail)


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Abstract

For years people have been wondering where exercise is medicine. We exercise everyday

as we live our daily lives. We walk to class, walk around our jobs, walk to the grocery store. We

all participate into some form of exercise some way or another. If exercise was the way for us to

stay healthy and as well as treat our diseases with no side effects that would be a better

alternative. Once we implement exercise as medication we have to take the steps to get people to

do it and provide a way for people to gain knowledge on the subject of exercise. This report

provides perspectives of different subjects on the topic and how they believe exercise is the way

to go as long as it is properly introduced and incentives towards the patients. Also provides the

challenges it could come across with companies these days being against the healthy lifestyle.

Keywords: Exercise, Medicine, Alternative


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Exercise Is Medicine

Background

These days, not enough people know of the importance of exercise and the long-term

effects it could have on the body. Some people do not know that exercise could be beneficial to

their bodies in preventing disease. Some professionals believe that exercise does keep the body

healthy, but it has no effects on preventing or treating diseases and other problems. Others are

just not educated on the right amount of exercise as they tend to over workout. Some people have

tried to prove the importance of exercise and others have not begun to touch on the subject. With

all the benefits that come with exercise; does it prove to be a better alternative than prescribed

medications.

Exercise science is a very interesting major that includes many routes. You can take a

route between nursing, physical therapy, athletic training, and even a doctor. All of these

directions still run into the same problem of exercise and whether or not people get enough of it.

It deals with the discussion on medicines and its effects on the body. Exercise keeps us healthy

and helps with the prevention of diseases’ but it can be more. Exercise could also enter the

category of treating our diseases. That is a hard statement to make, but it is true that exercise

could be a better alternative than some prescribed medications. Could there be a push for patients

to buy running shoes instead of pill planners. If there was a possibility that exercise could be

“just as effective as what’s in people’s medicine cabinets (Hannam)” would you take it that

chance. The implementing of exercise as a way of medication could also promote healthier

lifestyles and good eating in this fast pace society.

Once someone is diagnosed with an illness or is involved in an injury the first thing given

to the patient is medication. The medication is not always the best solution though. Sometimes
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medicine does more damage on a body than the actual injury or disease. What if there was a way

to prevent and treat disease with little to no side effects. Here’s a question from Dr. Bob Sallis a

family physicians “If there were one drug that prevented and treated dozens of diseases and

taking it had zero negative side effects, would you take it? (Hannah).” Now think about another

question; Is physical activity a better alternative than prescribed medication? Whether it is an

obese individual, adult with inflammation or arthritis, exercise or physical activity has been used

as a replacement for prescribed medication. Resulting no side effects, exercise has been

substituted for prescribed medications by physicians, athletic trainers, rehabilitation centers, and

physical therapist. Dr. Bob Sallis says, “Doctors are able to refer an obese patient to a specialist

for bariatric surgery but not to a fitness professional (Hannah).” After convincing people that

exercise is a viable solution there is another another complication. Doctors do not believe in the

power of physical activity over medication. Once the problem is taken care of “The complicated

part is how to get people to do it (Russel).” The Canadian health care professionals are searching

for the solution. Every question comes with one complication after another. Professional also

have to answer the question that how much exercise is too much exercise. Studies show that too

much exercise could be harmful to the body so doctors need to be educated on this risk to secure

the safety of their patients. According to the physical activity guidelines “30 minutes a day of

moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity exercise…(Eijsvogels)”

is the proper amount of exercise. Is exercise considered medicine and is it a better alternative?

Method

For this research I not only needed evidence from a web based resources, but as well as

the perspective from someone who specializes in the field. I interviewed Professor Bret Wood a

lecturer of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Kinesiology Department. His primary
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area of expertise is athletic medicine and healthcare. Along with the interview I sit in on

Professor Bret Wood’s Introduction to Kinesiology class. In a face to face interview he provided

me with some insight on some question regarding the topic of is physical activity an adequate

substitute for some medications. Professor Wood made clear that Exercise “could be used as

medication, but in correlation with prescribed medication” meaning physical activity could not

do it alone. Some chronic disease can not simply be treated by a good diet and exercising, but

others like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes are good canidates.

Professor Wood also touched on the steps and the potential side effects of implementing

exercise as a medication. Professor Wood stated, “ We tend to listen to people in power, or

people who have to most knowledge on the subject. Physicians would be the ones who are in

power.” Physicians who have more knowledge on exercise would have to stand up and say you

need to exercise more. They would have to educate us on the importance and introduce us to the

concept of exercising and how it could prevent and treat what ails us today. Along with the

education aspect of it comes the incentive aspect of it. Professor Wood shed light on the fact that

“ Medication comes with an incentive for people, as long as you take what they give you we are

going to pay for it”. People love the cheap and free stuff, so when we hear that they are giving us

a prescription for something that they are going to pay for as well it helps you with little to no

effort at all to take we are all for it. When we hear “you need to exercise if you want to get

better” then chances are we are not going to follow that order. Professor Wood made a point that

if they were to “provide an incentive such as paying for your gym membership or giving you a

discount on your copay if you provide proof that you attended the gym you would probably

exercise then. Let’s face it if you told a 65 year old obese man with high blood pressure to
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exercise he probably will not do it.” He made a good point which is why a step would be to

provide an incentive for people to exercise.

Professor Wood also provided information on the careers who would be affected such as

physicians who prescribe the medication and a spike in the need for people who specialize in

physical activity such as Fitness Trainers. With physical activity interfering with prescribing of

medication that might cause a problem with pharmaceutical companies. As Professor Wood

stated, “No big companies would be affected because they would definitely fight the replacement

of their product. The companies do not make commercials that say “you can take my medicine,

but you could also just exercise.” They would definitely be against the change because that

would mess with their profits. I asked Professor Wood how we could increase the awareness and

knowledge on exercise and he simply responded “ The physicians”. As he stated earlier the

physicians have the power to educate people because we listen to the more powerful and

educated people. I also asked a question regarding fast food chains which you may not think has

something to do with it but it does. With our faced paced society “We would rather drive through

a fast food line than get out of our car and get a little exercise to walk into a restaurant or grocery

store” Professor Wood stated. If physicians were to preach physical activity that comes with a

healthier lifestyle as I stated earlier. More exercise means healthier eating meaning less money

for fast food chains. “People are very lazy and we utilize apps like doordash, postmates, and

ubereats to get our food directly to our door” said Professor Wood. Physical activity could be a

good alternative when you are educated and you get the right motivation to do the physical

activity.

Results
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The sources match in which they all mention that physical activity is the way to go. It has

no side effects and it ultimately is better for your body. For instance in the interview Professor

Wood described how the physicians “ are the most educated on the topic” so we should start with

them. In the CMAJ article the solution could be “as simple as a health care professional taking a

few moments to say, “How often are you exercising?” or “How often are you physically active?”

according to Yungblut”(Russell). They both gave reason for if physical activity would be

implemented as a medicine and its first step to implement. Also how the Best Health article and

CMAJ article introduce exercise as “intervention that can prevent and treat dozens of

diseases”(Russell). Results state that physical activity could be prescribed along with medication.

As long as people receive an incentive they would be willing to exercise for their own well

being. They also agree in the challenging parts of the statement and the change. The process

would be very difficult because you can not make people do the exercise. You can tell them it is

good for them, but in reality it is going to take extra steps to make people want to do it. The basic

solution is educate the next generations of physicians to encourage exercise before pulling out a

prescription pad.Since the older generations have not been taught the importance of it when they

were younger they will not go against their teachings. Once the younger generations are taught to

ask about physical activity first they steps have begun to encourage a healthier living. The U.S.

economy is also ran by big corporations so if physicians encouraging exercise and healthy living

that lightens the pockets of these big corporations such as fast food chains and pharmaceutical

companies. I would definitely encounter criticism, but encouraging people to exercise and eat

well along with taking their medicine will prevent and treat chronic disease.

In the discipline you learn that you should always keep an open mind and sometimes the

answer is right in front of you. When they think prescribed medication is the way to go when
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there is a safer and possibly cheaper alternative that we happen to do everyday. When we walk to

class, stores, or around your workplace you are exercising. In this field you learn that you can not

mix up wording. Such as is physical activity a form of medication and can physical activity

replace medication. Physical activity may help with some ailments, but not them all. It may not

be able to do it on its own but in correlation with prescribed medicine maybe we can cut back on

the amount prescribed medicine produced, sold, and consumed. Some articles that were

recommended was Canadian Medical Association Journal, it spoke not that physical activity was

medication because it was already decided to be true. It spoke on the steps that would need to be

taken to encourage people to exercise and too encourage people to ask their physicians who

should be able to help. The JAMA network article doesn’t necessarily pick a side, but goes on to

explain that if physical activity were to be used as medication to make sure we are educated right

to be helpful and not harmful. They provide that education that we all need on the guidelines for

exercise being “30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes a week of

vigorous-intensity exercise appears to be associated with increased health benefits”(Eijsvogels).

They take that first step into educating you if you want to dig deep into it. I learned that exercise

is very important and everyone whether it is a physician or common citizen. Everyone needs

knowledge of exercise to know the importance of exercise. I learned to be careful on your

wording and introducing it as working in correlation with medication and not in replacement of

medicine.

Conclusion

Can physical activity work together with medicine to heal and treat what we go through

today? In conclusion medicine would definitely be a good alternative for some medications

depending on the chronic disease. Diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
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Physicians should definitely start to introduce exercise to their patients. Instead of having to run

to a pharmacy we run to a gym. Instead of going to a fast food restaurant we go to the grocery

store and buy food to cook. As this younger generation of physicians go through school we

should teach them on the importance of exercise and how to inform your patients on how to

correctly. Teach them to not hesitate to ask their patients if they are getting enough

exercise.Second we have to provide incentives for the patients. Otherwise people would not do it

because we live in a lazy society so people need that little push to exercise. As Professor Wood

stated “paying for your gym membership or giving you a discount on your copay if you provide

proof that you attended the gym.”Once we take these steps exercise would be one of the best

ways to treat and prevent diseases with no side effects. When you have the option to do

something that was cheaper better for you in the long run and prevent and treat multiple diseases

at a time it would be a eye opener for the medical field. It would also create a spike in a need for

trainers and physical therapist who specialize in physical activity.

This information might affect someone to pursue this major more because of their beliefs

in the importance of exercise. When they believe and have witnessed what exercise could do for

a human body they would be enthused to learn more of what exercise could do for your body. In

conclusion physical activity will make its way into doctor's office. That would be the first thing

considered instead of running to the pharmacy and prescription pad. It all depends on physicians

and their willingness to ask a patient about their amount of physical activity.
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References

Eijsvogels, T., & Thompson, P. (2015). Exercise Is Medicine: At Any Dose? JAMA,

314(18), 1915–1916. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2015.10858

Hannam, L. (2017, May 18). Can Exercise Replace Medication for What Ails You?

Retrieved from https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/benefits-of-

exercise/

Russell, E. (2013). Exercise is medicine.(News). CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association

Journal, 185(11), E526. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4501

B. Wood, personal communication, March 18, 2019