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Posts tagged: chronic disease

If Exercise Is Medicine, Will People Fill Their Prescriptions?

Written by IHRSA

On Monday, July 14th, the Healthcare Leadership Council hosted an excellent briefing on non-adherence to medication, highlighting the fact that 1 out of 3 patients never fill their prescriptions, and nearly 3 out of 4 Americans don’t take their medications as directed.

The panelists discussed innovative strategies for improving adherence, such as targeted and timely communication. Each strategy was based on the reality that a one-size-fits-all approach to communication is both inefficient and ineffective. Clearly, the digital age is creating medical providers with new opportunities for engaging patients and tracking their adherence, but there are no simple solutions for getting folks to take their medicine.

The problem of non-adherence to medication raises an uncomfortable question for physical activity advocates.

If 1/3 of patients are signaling that a visit to the pharmacy is a barrier too high to overcome, and 75% are finding it too difficult to take medication properly, how many patients can we reasonably expect to fill an exercise prescription that typically requires 150 minutes/week of exertion?

Although evidence suggests that patients are more likely to exercise if their doctors prescribe exercise, we suspect very few patients will stick to an exercise program unless medical offices and physical activity providers (e.g. health clubs, personal trainers, community centers) adopt engagement strategies similar to those being implemented by the pharmaceutical industry for medication adherence.

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The Doctor (and Ranger) Will See You Now

Guest Post from the Institute at the Golden Gate

In the past decade, rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases have skyrocketed in children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that more than one-third of adults in the United States—more than 72 million people—are considered medically obese and therefore more likely to develop major chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Lack of physical activity and poor diet has been established as the causes of an unhealthy, overweight nation. The CDC estimates that more than 40 percent of the U.S. population is sedentary.

The epidemics that result from an indoor, sedentary lifestyle require action from all sectors of society. Parks and public lands are an underutilized, low-cost healthcare resource that can and must be used to help solve the problem. There is a growing consensus that nature has many health benefits, from increased physical activity to mental, emotional, and community health benefits.  Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we help convene an initiative called Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Bay Area (HPHP: Bay Area) that fulfills a clear need to increase access to parks and develop them as health resources for the whole family—especially those in the highest health need communities.

Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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Staying Fit with a Disability

This Physical Fitness & Sports Month we’re reminded, through a recent CDC Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, to recognize the importance of physical activity among adults with disabilities. More than 21 million U.S. adults 18-64 years old have a disability. Did you know that these adults are three times more likely than adults without disabilities to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer? Regular aerobic activity increases heart and lung function, improves daily living activities and independence, decreases chances of developing chronic diseases, and improves mental health.

Let’s make fitness attainable for everyone in our communities. Here’s how we can start:


“Physical Activity is for Everyone,” CDC Vital Signs™. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Human Development and Disability. CDC. May 2014

Do you or a loved one have a disability? Are you looking for ways to stay fit? Here are some quick tips:

  • Talk to a doctor before you begin.
  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.
  • Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.
  • Find support and stick with it.

Read more tips on healthfinder.gov, and share them with your loved ones!

Progress on Childhood Obesity Prevalence!

Recent research published in JAMA has shown obesity prevalence has decreased among children ages 2-5 years.

Read more in a statement from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey.


Addressing Diabetes Prevention During National Diabetes Awareness Month

Contributed by: YMCA

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the Y is working to build awareness of prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes, and it’s a condition that is directly improved with physical activity. 

An estimated one in three adults in the U.S. (79 million people) has prediabetes, yet just 11 percent of those individuals know they have it. People with prediabetes have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke.

In 2010, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance to roll out the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is based on the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program tested by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which showed lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction reduce the number of new cases of diabetes by 58%—and by 71% in individuals over age 60.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long program beginning with 16 one-hour weekly classroom sessions led by trained lifestyle coach. The program provides a supportive environment where participants work in small groups to learn about healthier eating and increasing their physical activity in order to reduce their risk for diabetes.  Following these weekly sessions, participants meet monthly for added support in reaching the main program goals of reducing body weight by 5-7 percent and participating in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Through lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.


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Fighting Breast Cancer Through Physical Activity

Post from Triathlon Family USA, Inc.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to draw attention to the need for survivors to be physically active. Nearly all survivors endure therapeutic cancer treatment that includes surgery or chemotherapy or radiation, or some combination of these. Afterwards, most are sent on their way, often with a prescription for ongoing hormonal medication therapy – and advice to maintain a healthy body weight through sound nutrition and physical activity,


One of the most compelling reasons to follow a physical activity exercise plan after cancer treatment is that it helps you feel engaged in the fight. Once the frequent medical visits diminish, survivors may feel “anxious” that they’re not doing enough to battle the dreaded disease. Engaging in regular physical activity not only provides the feel-good endorphins that go along with exercise but also reassures survivors that they are doing something very important to stave off recurrence or new cancer development.

For most of these survivors – and there are more than 200,000 of them diagnosed in the United States each year, there is little or no guidance on what kind of physical activity to engage in or how to go about being active while addressing the healing process and potentially ongoing, even permanent side effects of cancer treatment.

What about the 2.9 million survivors the American Cancer Society says have already completed treatment?  Well, research suggests that survivors who engage in regular exercise may lengthen their lives. Physically active survivors live longer than those who aren’t active, and their quality of life is better. Those who are active say they experience less fatigue and pain and enjoy greater functioning in the activities of daily living.


So, what should you do if you’re a breast cancer survivor and are looking for help developing a physical activity plan?

Both newly diagnosed and post-treatment survivors should begin by searching for a Cancer Exercise Specialist (CES) in your area. These are individuals who have been trained in the special concerns of cancer survivors, who will work with you and your medical team to help you become physically active or to resume activity if you were active previously.

A Cancer Exercise Specialist is a professional who is qualified to assess, design, and implement individual and group exercise programs for individuals diagnosed with cancer. These individuals have received advanced training to evaluate health behaviors and risk factors, conduct comprehensive fitness assessments, and make appropriate exercise program recommendations. They also will help motivate individuals to eliminate negative habits and behaviors. A Cancer Exercise Specialist has a complete understanding of cancer from diagnosis to treatment, recovery, and special concerns such as preventing lymphedema or barriers to exercise. While there are other training programs available, the CES has been trained in the practical application of exercise for cancer survivors both during and after treatment.

That’s it! Whether you need stretching, walking, or other physical activity training, there is help available. Each survivor is different. Some may return to vigorous exercise quickly. Others require support and a helping hand for years to come. Some survivors may want to run marathons while others just want to walk around the block. Regardless of where you are on the cancer continuum, or what kinds of activities you enjoy, physical activity will make that journey forward easier.

Recognizing Childhood Obesity Awareness Month


New data indicating a decline in childhood obesity among preschoolers is good news – but there is still a lot of work to be done. September is “Child Obesity Awareness Month.” Let’s work together to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the No. 1 health concern facing American parents.

One way the Y is addressing this issue is through it’s early childhood and afterschool programs. In late 2011, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) made a commitment, to the First Lady and the Partnership for a Healthier America, to not only be the largest nonprofit provider of early childhood and afterschool programs, but also the healthiest. To keep this promise, YMCA’s across the country have adopted and implemented evidence-based YMCA standards for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA.) Now Y-USA is encouraging youth and families to integrate components of the HEPA standards into their at-home routine.

Bringing home HEPA—adding a fruit or vegetable at meals and snacks, sharing family-style meals, making water the primary beverage choice, engaging in daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and role modeling by parents and caregivers—will surely help families reap the benefits of a healthier home.

One of the key components of HEPA is physical activity. Akin to healthy eating, physical activity must become part of our everyday routine to achieve optimal health benefits. At least an hour of play a day will add significant health benefits, but for many families finding free-time can be challenging. Since busy is the new normal for many, families should take the 3-P approach— Purpose, Prioritize, Plan—to accomplishing their physical activity needs.  

PurposePhysical activity isn’t just for people who compete in athletics, are concerned with their physiques, or have time. Everyone needs activity at different levels.

Prioritize: Physical activity, like brushing teeth, must simply become part of normal day-to-day activities; not an afterthought.

Plan: A family activity plan will help add accountability to the family’s physical activity goals and make it easier to stay on track. The family should plan to revisit, and revise this plan if necessary, as the hustle bustle of the school year takes way; and break up the time if needed, as long as it adds up to an hour, it counts!

Focus on FUN, play first! Don’t be afraid to swap some study time for playtime. Most kids will love to put aside their homework and play with their family and it’s been proven that there is a strong link between physical activity and academic success. Remember, kids who burn more, learn more.

Moderate-to-vigorous activities such as walking to and from work and school, racing to the bus stop, biking, playing tag, jumping rope, commercial break fitness bursts, or after-dinner dance parties are FUN ways to insert physical activity into your daily routine. Not sure which activities are moderate or vigorous? The CDC offers a useful 0 to 10 guide to help you measure your physical activity intensity level.

Increasing physical activity is one of many healthy habits that can be adopted by families to encourage a healthier future. Visit YMCA’s Healthy Family Home for free resources to support your family’s physical activity goals and visit COAM to learn more about Child Obesity Awareness Month.  What are you doing to help families bring HEPA home?