One of the most important decisions your patients will make regarding their overall health is to incorporate regular physical activity (PA) into their lives. Your encouragement can be a powerful influence in this decision. The EIM Summary Sheet provides a quick overview of Exercise is Medicine® and the recommended physical activity guidelines. EIM has developed a step-by-step Health Care Providers' Action Guide to help you integrate physical activity into your practice. EIM also collaborated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to create A Physical Activity Toolkit for Registered Dietitians. The Rx for Health series of patient handouts provides supporting information to patients with various medical conditions and for sedentary adults, older adults, teens and children.
We understand that your time is limited, and every minute counts. The HCP Action Guide provides an implementation framework to help you utilize all the members of your clinical team to:
- assess the current PA level of your patient;
- provide brief advice and/or write an exercise prescription
- refer your patient to physical activity resources (programs, places, professionals, or self-directed resources).
To help you get started, here are additional resources and answers to frequently asked questions:
Where do I start?
Know the basic national physical activity recommendations
and share these with your patients. At minimum, encourage your patients to decrease their sedentary time and integrate short periods of activity over the course of a day (walking, standing, any and all movement, etc). Provide the EIM "Sit Less. Move More.
" handout. Every active minute counts!
How do I best assess my patient's activity level in the least amount of time?
Have your medical assistant assess physical activity using the Physical Activity Vital Sign
(PAVS) before you enter the exam room. 2 questions, simple math, and bam!
Is it safe for my patient to engage in physical activity?
Most patients can begin light to moderate physical activity without screening. In fact, their health will be negatively affected if they remain inactive! The ACSM screening algorithm
can help guide your decision-making.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, what should I be telling my patients about exercise and physical activity?
Moderate-intensity physical activity (such as a 30-60 minute brisk walk) has been shown to have positive effects on immune function, particularly for those over age 65, as well as improve immune responses to vaccination. Encourage patients to be active while following social distancing recommendations. Provide EIM handouts for adults
and parents with children.
Does my patient need medical clearance before starting physical activity?
Use the ACSM screening algorithm
to identify patients who may need further work-up prior to initiating moderate to vigorous physical activity.
How do I know how much physical activity to prescribe?
How do I fit a physical activity prescription into my busy practice?
Involve every member of your team to make it easier for everyone - you included! See how
Is there a prescription template?
The EIM Rx form
can be filled out and given to the patient or uploaded into the EHR for inclusion in the after-visit summary.
Do you have a step-by-step guide to help me integrate physical activity into my practice?
I am not sure what a brief discussion of activity will accomplish, so what is the possibility that my counseling will change my patient's behavior?
Studies show that brief physician counseling can induce a small, but significant increase in the number of patients meeting physical activity (PA) recommendations particularly among those at risk for cardiovascular disease. Repeat PA prescriptions help maintain this effect and referral to appropriate PA resources or programs helps even more.
References: BM Pinto et al., Z Sabti et al, C Di Loreto et al, EA O'Connor et al
I see several resources on the Exercise is Medicine website, but what is the minimum that I should review as I begin to learn the best way to counsel my patients?
Read the EIM Summary Sheet
and/or peruse the Rx for Health patient handout library
. Note that there are specific handouts for older adults, teens and parents of young children, as well as many common chronic medical conditions. Find out what matters to the patient and empower them to choose physical activity options that resonate.