In mid June 2012 my travels took me to Glasgow, Scotland to speak at the International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS), which was the official sports medicine conference for the London Olympic Games. I was asked to give the closing keynote lecture of the meeting on the topic of “Exercise is Medicine; Realizing the Health Benefits of Exercise”.
I was very excited to speak at this meeting because I have always felt that the Olympic Games should be about more than just watching the best athletes on the planet compete every 4 years. I believe the Olympic Games should also stand for promoting the importance of exercise and sports for everyone. Olympic athletes are the epitome of what physical activity and exercise can do to help the human body achieve optimal performance.
However, the power of physical activity and exercise does not stop here and a more impressive effect is the power to prevent diseases and improve quality and quantity of life. And as a family physician, I am much more concerned about the world understanding this effect!
I would like to see a former Olympic athlete talk about how when they were training 20 years ago, all that was at stake was a gold medal (probably now stashed somewhere in a closet). However, now they are training for something much more important – to stay healthy and alive long enough to watch their grandkids grow up! What could be more important than that? That is what a lifelong commitment to exercise and sports can bring to everyone and not just former Olympians.
So that was the message I delivered in my talk, to this international gathering of sports and exercise medicine professionals from around the world and it clearly resonated with them. Everyone there seemed to agree that sports medicine professionals need to lead the charge in promoting the health benefits of physical activity, to remind all healthcare professionals around the world that Exercise IS Medicine and they should prescribe it.
And that is what the Every Body Walk! Campaign is about. It’s about starting a national movement (pun intended!) to get people walking every day, because we know it is the single most powerful thing you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. And that is why our leadership at Kaiser Permanente, starting with CEO George Halvorson, so strongly supports all things that promote walking. We all know that patients who walk every day are much easier to care for, make better employees and build stronger communities.
So we have a lot at stake to get Every Body walking. And with the help of the Olympic and healthcare establishments collaborating on this common goal, I think we can do it. Thank you for being one of the key messengers in this movement!
Keep walking my friends!