Tag Archives: physical activity

More Docs Are Asking Patients to Exercise

Physicians are getting better at advising adults to exercise.

Photo courtesy National Cancer Institute/Bill Branson

In 2010, 32.4% of adults in the United States who had seen a physician or other health care professional in the past year had received a recommendation to begin or continue to do exercise or physical activity, up from 22.6% in 2000. At each time point, women were more likely than men to have been advised to exercise.

The findings, published this month as a National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, come from the National Health Interview Surveys conducted in 2000, 2005, and 2010.

Between 2000 and 2010 the percentage of patients aged 85 and older who received a “get fit” recommendation from a physician nearly doubled from 15.3% to 28.9%. The percentage of patients aged 18-24 years receiving such a recommendation also increased during the same time period, but to a lesser extent (from 10.4% to 16.1%).

The report also found that the percentage of adults with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes who received exercise advice from a physician increased between 2000 and 2010.

“Trends over the past 10 years suggest that the medical community is increasing its efforts to recommend participation in exercise and other physical activity that research has shown to be associated with substantial health benefits,” the report states. “Still, the prevalence of receiving this advice remains well below one-half of U.S. adults and varies substantially across population subgroups.” 

 — Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)

Photo courtesy National Cancer Institute Visuals Online

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Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, Family Medicine, IMNG, Practice Trends, Primary care

To Get the Teen Away from the Screen, Get a Dog

The physical and psychological health benefits of dog ownership for adults are well known, but data from a new study suggest that Mom isn’t always the one on dog-care duty.

photo by Heidi Splete

In a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, John Sirard, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia and colleagues surveyed 618 teen/parent pairs in Minneapolis about their physical activity levels and how many, if any, dogs they had at home. The teens wore accelerometers to track their physical activity levels for 1 week.

The researchers found that teens with dogs were more active, even after controlling for the usual suspects of gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Both measures of activity – accelerometer counts per minute and the average daily minutes of “moderate to vigorous physical activity” – were significantly greater in teens who had dogs.

But here’s the interesting twist: According to the researchers, “dog walking behavior and active play with the family dog were not assessed in the current study and need to be studied further.”

Although having a dog doesn’t guarantee an increase in activity, the findings suggest that even teens who don’t walk the dog will likely get up off the sofa to let the dog out, and in, and back out. . . even if they don’t put down their phones.

Of course, the study was limited by the use of a homogenous sample, but it is the first to address the impact of dog ownership on activity in teens.

Bonus: A dog gives parents and teens something to talk about, too.

–Heidi Splete (on twitter @hsplete)

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Filed under Family Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Primary care

European Parliament Members Weigh in on NCDs

With the United Nations summit on noncommunicable disease less than a year away, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have now contributed to a growing number of voices worldwide calling for urgent action to address the chronic disease epidemic.

Image by Pacopus via Flickr Creative Commons

In a statement sent this week to the Presidency of the European Union, four MEP groups wrote, “Chronic non-communicable diseases account for 86% of deaths in the WHO European Region. They include heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, cancers, respiratory and liver diseases. Because most are treatable but not always curable, they generate an enormous financial burden due to treatment costs, care costs and loss of productivity.”

Signatories are the MEP Heart Group, the EU Diabetes Working Group, the MEP Group for Kidney Health and MEPs Against Cancer, informal groups of parliament members engaged in fighting the diseases and conditions in those health areas.

The MEPs note that chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) affect more than a third of Europe’s population, comprising over 100 million citizens, and that four preventable health determinants – tobacco use, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity – account for most of chronic illness and death in Europe. Prevention costs less than disease management and treatment, yet 97% of health expenses currently are spent on treatment and only 3% invested in prevention.

The statement advises EU member states to follow recommendations from a policy paper entitled “A Unified Prevention Approach.” That 20-page document was issued in July by the Chronic Disease Alliance, a coalition of 10 separate European nonprofit professional medical organizations, including those representing hepatology, oncology, cardiology, nephrology, respiratory medicine, and diabetology.

The Alliance’s recommendations include a call for harmonization of tobacco taxation across Europe, standardization of cigarette packaging with 80% of the package devoted to pictorial health warnings, and a ban of tobacco sales via the Internet and vending machines.

They also recommend a ban of added trans fat to foods, introduction of a traffic light color coding system to food labels (with green being the most healthful and red the least), increased access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, and EU measures to prohibit marketing of unhealthful food to children. Other recommendations address the promotion of physical activity and the reduction of alcohol consumption and dependence.

According to the Alliance, “Simple policies could save millions of lives and cut billions of euros in direct and indirect costs…By acting now, the European Commission will be doing something that transcends anything else it may accomplish.”

–Miriam E. Tucker (@MiriamETucker on Twitter)

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Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Family Medicine, Gastroenterology, Health Policy, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Nephrology, Oncology, Pediatrics, Primary care, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine, Uncategorized