Surgeon General declares, "Exercise is Medicine"

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is announcing a new initiative to get Americans moving around:

That is why I am asking healthcare organizations across this country to join the Exercise is Medicine initiative. Exercise is Medicine is a multinational, multiorganizational initiative. It brings physical activity to the forefront of disease prevention and treatment, by making exercise a part of every patient's interaction with a health clinician. Exercise is Medicine strives to provide the essential connection between clinicians, fitness professionals, and the public, so that everyone can receive the guidance they need to stay healthy and active. All the partners in this initiative are dedicated to the idea that exercise is the new medicine. Partners are asked to continue to build, support, and advocate for physical activity as an essential element of global health and well-being by committing to action:

  • Policy makers are asked to change policies to support physical activity as a major component of health.
  • Clinicians and fitness professionals are asked to integrate exercise into every patient and client interaction.
  • Communities, workplaces, and schools are asked to promote physical activity as an essential part of health and well-being.
  • Members of the public are asked to educate and empower themselves to seek appropriate counseling on physical activity.

As health professionals, we should remember that patients are more likely to change their behavior if they have a meaningful reward -- something more than reaching a certain weight or dress size. The reward has to be something that each person can feel, enjoy, and celebrate. The reward is optimal health that allows people to embrace each day and live their lives to the fullest -- without disease, disability, or lost productivity. I hope you will join the Exercise is Medicine initiative. Together, America can become a Healthy and Fit Nation.

Since Benjamin is an Obama appointee, I expect we'll soon hear a backlash from the GOP's wacko wing about healthy people being some hidden Muslim socialist plot.

On the one hand, Benjamin has drawn fire for appearing to be overweight; on the other, she's a mountain climber who's training to take on Mount Kilimanjaro. As someone who's clearly "been there" in terms of dealing with excess weight, she might have the moral authority to get us off our fat butts and moving. One can only hope.

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