Blog | Tuesday, June 7, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Fit doctors more likely to prescribe exercise

Active, healthy medical students are more likely to prescribe physical activity to patients, according to research presented at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

A research team assessed objective markers of cardiometabolic health, including cardiorespiratory fitness and attitudes on physical activity counseling, in 577 freshman medical students in Colombia from 2005 to 2010. Students' health and fitness were measured by waist circumference, body mass index, fasting glucose levels and lipid profiles, in addition to the 20-meter shuttle run test.

Attitudes toward physical activity counseling were gauged through students' answers to "How relevant do you think it will be in your future medical practice to counsel your patients on physical activity?" and "I will have the ability to counsel my patients more credibly and effectively if I am physically active."

80% of students reported believing physical activity counseling to be highly relevant in their future clinical practice. Many of the students who said exercise counseling was highly relevant were fit themselves. They were 1.7 times more likely to exhibit healthy levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and 3.2 times more likely to have normal triglycerides levels than their peers who don't believe physical activity counseling will be relevant. Students who were healthy, met the current U.S. physical activity guidelines and had normal cholesterol levels were also more likely to strongly agree with the concept that an active doctor's exercise counseling will be more credible and motivating to patients.

"Previous evidence indicates that nearly two-thirds of patients would be more willing to become physically active if their doctors advise it, and these patients find an active, healthy doctor's advice more credible and motivating," said Felipe Lobelo, MD, PhD, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a press release. "It is critical for current and future doctors to understand the public health importance of providing physical activity counseling to every patient."