More Doctors Are Prescribing Exercise Instead Of Medication


Doctors treating chronic health problems are increasingly prescribing exercise for their patients instead of medication— and encouraging them to think of physical activity as their new medication.

One of Boston based doctors, Dr. Michelle Johnson, who prescribes exercise to patients at the Roxbury-based health center said:

“Exercise is not a new medicine. It’s really an old medicine. But you know, I think we’re now coming to the point of understanding how important it is.”

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Monisha Long, who is morbidly obese and suffers from hypertension, got a doctor’s prescription for exercise and says she’s gotten visible and dramatic results after more than two years of regular workouts. She specified other less visible benefits since she started her workout programme.

“I’m more energized,”

She said,

“As far as my energy, I feel like I’m stronger. I feel like I’m less tired. I feel like I can do almost anything now.”

People who are physically active tend to live longer and are at lower risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet fewer than one in four adults exercises enough to reap those benefits, the agency says.

Dr. Edward Phillips, a Boston physician, is so sold on exercise. He pedals on a stationary bike that’s integrated into his office desk. Phillips said exercise is “like taking a little bit of Prozac — an antidepressant — and a little bit of Ritalin, which is a stimulant.”

 “Our bodies are meant to move,”

He says

“Integrating movement into our day allows the system to work optimally. Part of the system that needs to work is our brain, and includes sleep, mood, cognition, ability to concentrate.”

A prescription for exercise is a bargain, said Stephanie Dennis, who works out on a treadmill to stay fit, quoting it’s not a big sacrifice to spend $10 a month for something that is more rewarding (exercise).

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