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Should Doctors Prescribe Exercise?

Should Doctors Prescribe Exercise?

By Intermountain Healthcare

Dec 1, 2016

Updated Jul 13, 2023

5 min read


Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active is vital to reducing health risks and maintaining or even avoiding chronic conditions. 

Liz Joy, MD, Intermountain’s Medical Director for Community Health and Clinical Nutrition, presented this information at the 2016 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in New Orleans. Her primary message: Every patient should get a physical activity assessment and prescription at their doctor’s visit.

At Intermountain Healthcare, physical activity assessments (Physical Activity Vital Sign – PAVS) are built into the electronic health records of patients. Physicians can ask the patient during an appointment how much activity they get during a week, the intensity, and correlate that information with their patient’s health.

“Then with that information, we can give advice to start, increase or maintain activity,” Dr. Joy said.

RELATED: Get Moving! What’s Your Physical Activity Vital Sign?

Inactivity can lead to major health problems such as with heart disease, higher stroke risk and type 2 diabetes – just to name a few. The recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week (or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity), which equates to about 30 minutes of moderate intense activity, five days a week. Adding some strength training two times per week adds even more benefits!

Hear more from Elizabeth Joy on the need for physicians to monitor physical activity in the video below.