In late December 2012 my travels took me to the ancient city of Istanbul. I was there as a guest of the Turkish Sports Medicine Association to speak about the power of exercise to improve health and to help launch Exercise Is Medicine, Turkey. It was a great trip and a chance to talk about something I feel very passionate about, which is that physicians around the world should assess and prescribe exercise as a standard part of their disease treatment and prevention paradigm. And even though I used a translator to help convey my message, the crowd of Turkish physicians I spoke to were all in agreement that exercise, and especially walking, is the single best thing that patients can do to improve their health.
As I have said before, no matter where I travel in the world I continue to be amazed at the strong consensus that exercise is indeed a powerful medication. Virtually everyone I speak to agrees that 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, like a brisk walk, is the recommended dose of what should be prescribed to patients. This amount of exercise has been shown to both prevent and treat a host of diseases including diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, dementia and depression. It has also been shown to mitigate the harmful health effects of obesity and improve both the quality and quantity of life. That is one powerful medication, wouldn’t you agree? Certainly if there were a pill that could provide this kind of health benefit, all healthcare professionals would prescribe it and every patient would want to take it.
With that in mind, you can understand why we created the Every Body Walk! initiative and this website. That is also why at Kaiser Permanente, all of our patients are asked about their exercise habits at every visit. And that is why Turkey will launch a similar initiative to encourage their physicians to assess and prescribe exercise as well. It is certainly an idea that is catching on around the world. With this many healthcare experts saying the same thing, it is clear that the evidence is overwhelming and we need to make sure everyone around the globe gets the message that Everybody needs to Walk 30 minutes a day!
Of course, while I was in Istanbul I took the chance to walk every day and explore this beautiful city. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history and amazing culture. The city is unique in that part of it is located in Europe and part in Asia. And there is no better way to explore a city like Istanbul than by walking and also gain all the remarkable health benefits I mentioned above at the same time.
So happy New Year my friends and I hope one of your resolutions will be to walk every day!