Prescription for Exercise: Making Physical Activity a Priority

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 3, 2016

A recent study found that only 34 percent of adults were counseled about physical activity during their last primary care visit.

Has your doctor ever given you a prescription for exercise?

Dr. JoAnn Manson, Chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recently co-authored an article that calls for physicians and other health care professionals to make exercise counseling a consistent component of their interactions with patients. Failure to do so, explains Dr. Manson, is a lost opportunity to safely and inexpensively improve the health of patients.

“There is a consensus within the medical and public health communities that increasing physical activity among our patients should be a priority,” says Dr. Manson. “No other single intervention or treatment is associated with such a diverse array of benefits.”

Among those benefits is reducing the risk for major chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline, certain cancers, and depression.

A recent study, however, found that only 34 percent of adults were counseled about physical activity during their last primary care visit. Among adults with vascular risk factors, about 40 percent received such counseling. Dr. Manson and her co-authors suggest that this lack of guidance may be due to time constraints, a lack of useful tools, or skepticism about the impact of exercise counseling.

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A Hearty Dose of Cardiovascular Advice and Research

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 12, 2013

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it is also one of the leading causes of disability. As part of American Heart Month, we offer insight from our clinicians and researchers about how to reduce your heart disease risks and what new things we’re learning about cardiovascular disease and treatment.


Heart Disease: Eliminate Excuses to Reduce Your Risks

Dr. Eldrin F. Lewis, MD, MPH, tells his patients that they’ll dramatically reduce their risk of developing heart disease if they follow a few simple guidelines for reducing their blood pressure (hypertension). Genetics can indeed play a role in developing high blood pressure, but obesity, inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, stress, and salt intake are all hypertension risk factors that you can  control.


Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Cholesterol Drugs

If you’ve been taking a statin medication to lower your cholesterol, you might be wondering what you should do in light of new warnings about the link between statin use and diabetes. Research conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital may help you and your doctor weigh the benefits and risks.

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Serious News for Couch Potatoes

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 7, 2012

Physical inactivity leads to a shorter life expectancy, causing as many premature deaths as tobacco smoking or obesity.

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) studies are bringing to light the serious health impact of a sedentary lifestyle. Physical inactivity leads to a shorter life expectancy and increased risks of many chronic diseases. In fact, it causes as many premature deaths worldwide as tobacco smoking or obesity.

A recent study led by BWH epidemiologist Dr. I-Min Lee estimates that physical inactivity causes between six and ten percent of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer cases worldwide.  Inactivity also is responsible for some 5.3 million deaths worldwide each year – comparable to the 5 million deaths worldwide per year that are attributed to tobacco smoking or the 3 million deaths worldwide per year attributed to obesity.  Physical inactivity was defined in the study as not getting the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g., 30 minute brisk walk, 5 times a week).

“Physical inactivity has a major health effect globally,” said Dr. Lee, the lead author of the study. “While it is unrealistic to suppose that we can eliminate inactivity worldwide, a decrease in the number of people worldwide who are inactive by just 25 percent could save as many as 1.3 million lives worldwide each year.”

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