During the last week or May 2015, my travels took me to San Diego for the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and World Congress on Exercise is Medicine. This is my favorite meeting of the year because it brings together the world’s leading experts in the field of Sports and Exercise Medicine. For me, it is a wonderful chance to see old friends, meet new ones and hear about the latest advances in the field. This year’s meeting was outstanding as usual, with close to 7000 attending.
I gave several talks at the meeting, centered around the theme of the power of exercise to improve health and how we can get people to do it on a regular basis. In one of my talks I discussed the concern that America’s Healthcare system is badly broken. As evidence, spending on Healthcare in the U.S. has increased 818% in the last 50 years, while our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown only 168% and wages increased a paltry 16%. Currently the U.S. spends almost 18% of our GDP on Healthcare and that number has been growing at a remarkably steady rate. More concerning is the fact that The U.S. ranks worst among the world’s 11 most wealthy nations in terms of efficiency, equity and outcomes of its Healthcare system. And the WHO ranked the US healthcare system 37th in the world, just ahead of Slovenia, but behind Costa Rica and Dominica – despite the fact that we spend over twice as much on healthcare as most countries. It is clear that when it comes to healthcare, American’s are getting neither quality nor affordability.
The reasons for this have mostly to do with the fact the American doctors are paid mostly for prescribing pills and procedures. In fact roughly 97% of the healthcare dollar is spent on treatment, while only 3% goes into prevention. And charges for the most common medical procedures done in the US cost nearly double what they do in other countries. This should raise concern for everyone about the impending healthcare costs for an aging baby boomer generation. It is clear that something must change to keep from bankrupting the country with healthcare costs.
In my opinion that fix to our healthcare system should begin by promoting healthier lifestyles. Getting patients to walk every day and to eat a healthy diet would likely do more to improve health than most of the expensive pills and procedures that have become the standard of care today. This is why I travel around the world to speak about the health benefits of walking and write this blog after each trip.
While in San Diego I was able to do a lot of walking and particularly enjoyed leading a “Walk with a Doc” event that was sponsored by ACSM. This drew a good number of conference attendees who joined my for an early morning walk along the San Diego Harbor.
I hope this blog finds you well and doing the walking you need to stay healthy.