RX Exercise: Putting the HEALTH back into healthcare

Take one jog and call me in the morning!

I know, I know, this month is about getting moving. I promise it will make sense in a minute!

I had a lot of trouble finding books about exercise that were not just about HOW to exercise. It was darn near impossible. I finally found one book, written by New York Times author Gina Kolata called “Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth About Exercise and Health.” Another issue was the fact that there were none available in the city. So, I decided to order a used copy through Alibris. Last issue, it took for-e-ver to get to me so I haven’t been able to include much of what I’ve been able to read of it so far.

The book starts with an anecdote experienced by the writer as she tried to unwind a web surrounding a study. The study proved claimed to have proven that the best kind of exercise was not the traditional kind, but more of short, mild bursts with several cool done points that is only done occasionally. Less is more. Even as someone who has taken a few stats courses in her day, I could poke holes all over it. Heck, a ten year old could probably poke holes in it. This set Kolata on a quest to see what the real story behind exercise was.

Apparently, back in good ol’ Greece, a fellow named Herodicus wrote about the virtues of exercise. He actually stated that exercise was a form of medicine. To me, that is an incredibly intense thought. I have thought about exercise in regards to maintaining health, but never as ‘medicine’. Herodicus wasn’t alone either. Hippocrates, one of the founding fathers of medicine and for who the Hippocratic Oath was named, agreed wholeheartedly with Herodicus.

Eating alone will not keep a man well. He must also take exercise.” – Hippocrates, “Regimen in Health

Before drug companies existed, when man could only use what was natural, exercise was the bees knees! Exercise has stayed in style on and off for centuries. There was a time where many were scared into thinking intense exercise could kill. ‘Athlete’s heart’ was a term coined for deaths of athletes, even when it was proven to most often be a case of dehydration. (Remember, people who need to watch their water intake include athletes. Too much without salt or too little can be very detrimental.) Still, exercise is now on the upswing in our culture. This is great, absolutely fantastic…so why are there so many obese people? Answer: Sedentary lifestyle. We’ve moved away from an Agrarian lifestyle, we live in cities where everything is at our fingertips (literally, what CAN’T you have delivered) and we sit on our duffs all day at the office.

This long history of exercise’s entanglement with medicine and what I believe to be its positive effects, got me thinking. What if doctors could prescribe exercise. I know they can already suggest it, but what if they could hand out little gym passes? What if your health insurance companies could subsidize your gym pass or personal training so you could better afford it? What if classes on how to exercise properly were offered weekly for free by our governments? I guess this sounds like a pipe dream. Already, people in the U.S. have to pay for their health care. Here in Canada, they’ve taken measures that eliminate a lot of our preventative health care, such as optometrists, chiropractors and alternative health care. Good luck getting help with a gym membership. There’s obviously some flaws in my suggestions and it would be a program that would need a lot of tweaking, but how great would it be if it could work?

While I was reading Dr. Batmanghelidj’s book, “Water: For health, for healing, for life”, I was really struck by his opinion that we live in a ‘sick-care system’. I have to agree. Our focus is always on fixing the problems once they arise and look where it has gotten us. A society that is obese and where for the first time in human history, has given birth to children who will die BEFORE their parents. If that’s not a sign of something wrong, then I don’t know what is.

I fully intend to bring my body back to the state health that it was meant to live in. A very big part of that journey is exercise. I also intend to engage my children in physical activities as much as possible. I hope Ontario still has the tax credit for children’s sports when I get to that place in my life. At least they are doing one thing right.

What do you think? Is there any way ‘prescription exercise’ could ever be integrated into North America? What would be the challenges or rewards?


About msjenniferwalker

I'm a Jenn of all trades, as long as they are creative and fulfilling. I'm an actress, writer, photographer and all around social person. I love to learn, travel, meet new people and have new experiences.

Posted on February 28, 2012, in Experiences, Information, musings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. You should check out the American College of Sports Medicine. They have an annual conference dedicated to discussing “Exercise is Medicine.” And, certainly clinical exercise physiologists do prescribe exercise, although usually as part of cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation.
    Sara from

  2. I love the idea of prescribing exercise! Part of the issue though, I think is that exercising is far harder than taking a pill. Literally, what you put into it determines what you get out of it. And I don’t think people truly appreciate HEALTH (not lack of illness). Unfortunately, the current health care system is based on the biomedical model of health which focuses on curing illness, not promoting overall health.
    Great book I’m currently reading that you might also find VERY interesting as you come up into to the diet phases of your detox: “Wheat Belly” by Dr Davis (a cardiologist). Check it out:

    • It totally is harder to exercise, but if it were prescribed and if the financial costs were helped, much like they can be for pills, at least it would be a LITTLE easier.
      Thanks for the info. I already have wheat belly on my list!

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