ACSM: Healthy Doctors May Mean Healthier Patients

May 30, 2008

Medical students who understand the value of physical activity on a personal and professional level may be more likely to subsequently "prescribe" exercise to patients in their practices, according to a study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.

FRIDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Medical students who understand the value of physical activity on a personal and professional level may be more likely to subsequently "prescribe" exercise to patients in their practices, according to a study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.

John Duperly, M.D., Ph.D., of the Medico Internista y Deportologo Fundacion Santa fe in Bogota, Colombia, and a colleague designed the "Healthy Doctor=Healthy Patient" study to assess the personal practices, educational environment and exercise counseling attitudes in 254 medical students in Colombia.

The researchers found that among the fifth-year medical students, those who were knowledgeable about the benefits of physical activity and exercise counseling were more likely to report being physically active themselves and express a greater willingness to recommend exercise to their future patients.

"This is a perfect example of how a healthy doctor can lead to healthy patients," Duperly said in a statement. "The more future doctors know about -- and perform -- exercise, the more they realize its value as a preventive and therapeutic tool. Medical schools should do more to train doctors on the pivotal role of activity for health, on how to routinely counsel patients about exercise and to teach them why this information is crucial to patient knowledge."

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