Whenever I meet a someone for the first time and we begin talking about what I chose to do for my career (I consider it more fun then anything else) they assume that as a personal trainer I do the following: yell, make people sweat and inflict pain on clients. They always seemed shocked when I tell them that I provide a medical fitness service which serves an entirely different purpose then making people sweat. That has led me to shed some insight on exactly what medical fitness is and isn’t. Let’s begin!
Physical inactivity is a major problem with just about everyone. It is a modifiable risk factor which is good, yet people still do not move enough. This is complicated with the automated services, internet, remote deposits at banks, etc. It has created a need for more creative ways to become active and has really shined a light on exercise. Worldwide, it is estimated that physical inactivity causes:
- 6% of the global burden of disease from coronary heart disease
- 7% of Type II Diabetes; and
- 10% of breast and colon cancer cases.
Inactivity also causes 9% of premature mortality, or more than 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008.
On the other hand, regular physical activity:
- reduces mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer;
- reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease;
- lowers the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer-specific specific mortality in adults with higher levels of muscle strength; and
- leads to higher academic performance in children and adults.
Despite these health concerns of being physically inactive:
- More than half of U.S. adults (56%) do not meet the recommendations for sufficient physical activity set forth by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,
- U.S. adolescents and adults spend almost eight hours a day in sedentary behaviors, and
- As much as 36% of adults engaged in no leisure-time PA at all. (1)
What is Medical Fitness?
The Medical Fitness Network (MFN) describes medical fitness as the use of exercise as a valuable tool for those with chronic health & medical conditions. Exercise is used to improve the quality of life for those with chronic disease and medical conditions by developing a plan for regular exercise and overall wellness.
Typically chronic diseases and medical conditions include: Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Autism, Cancer, Diabetes, Disabilities Fibromyalgia, Heart Disease, Mental Health Challenges, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Osteoporosis, Respiratory Disease, Stroke and women’s health issues including pre & postpartum care.
Who Provides Medical Fitness?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has launched the Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) global initiative that promotes physical activity as a way to promote optimal health and encourages primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans and to refer patients to evidence-based exercise programs and qualified exercise professionals.
They created a credential program that recognizes exercise professionals who possess the education and skills to work closely with the health care community and referred patients, including those with common chronic diseases and health conditions.
- “PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – FAR REACHING!” Exercise is Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php/physical-activity-and-ncds/ on April 20, 2018.
- “About Us.” MedFit Network. Retrieved from https://medfitnetwork.org/public/about-us/ on April 20, 2018.