In early April 2016, my travels took me to Queens College to speak at the Spring Meeting of the Greater New York Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. This was a great meeting for fitness professionals, researchers and clinicians, which also included a large number of students from the field of Exercise Science. I spoke about the Exercise is Medicine initiative and the Every Body Walk! Campaign and really enjoyed interacting with this audience.
In my lecture, I spoke specifically about the importance of connecting fitness with healthcare. It makes no sense that I can refer my obese patient to have bariatric surgery, but I can’t refer them to a fitness professional! I believe that helping my patients get more active is critical to stemming the rising tide of chronic disease, that is mostly related to a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. Inactivity is a major public health problem around the world, but especially in the United States, where healthcare costs are by far the highest.
I believe exercise and in particular daily walking is the single best thing you can do to prevent and treat these chronic diseases and at a fraction of the cost we are paying for various pills and procedures. Beyond that, I would like my patients to be instructed on strength training and flexibility exercises that can be invaluable in helping them maintain their functional capacity and do the things they want to do as they get older. However, at the present time most health insurance will not pay for my patients to go see a fitness professional. I believe that is something we have to change.
I felt like this message really resonated with those attending this meeting and I believe we are slowly making progress in our mission to merge fitness with healthcare. I also enjoyed being in New York City for the weekend and got to connect with my good buddy Dr. Jordan Metzl, who is a well-known sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC. Jordan is also passionate about promoting exercise to his patients and actually leads monthly workouts in Central Park that are free for his patients and anyone else that wants to attend. Of course, there is no better city to walk in than NYC and I enjoyed doing a lot of walking while I was there and seeing the many sights the city has to offer.
Thanks for reading my blog and spreading the word on the importance of walking to good health.
Keep walking my friends!
Photo caption: With Drs Adrian Hutber and Walt Thompson at NY ACSM Chapter meeting