Weight control, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stronger bones, stronger muscles, improved mood – the benefits of physical activity are many, yet it is the most under-utilised intervention by health professionals, which is somewhat surprising.
“People with chronic illness and injuries are commonly seen by rehabilitation professionals. We need to be promoting this, but I don’t think we are,” said White. (Daniel White, assistant professor of physical therapy in the University of Delaware’s College of Health Sciences) “Unfortunately, the approach is ‘fix the pain and move on.’
And that approach is missing a significant opportunity. The single most important determinant of someone starting to exercise is a health professional’s recommendation. “It’s not like we need to bend over backwards to get these people active; it’s just saying something,” White said.
Yet, only three out of 10 physicians recommend exercise for people with chronic diseases. White points to knee osteoarthritis, degenerative arthritis of the knee, as example A. “Not recommending exercise [for these knee issues] is terrible,” he said.
“It’s a clinical practice guideline to recommend exercises and the message is not getting to the patient. Unfortunately, it’s not a priority. That’s a huge missed opportunity.”