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Entries in medical wellness (10)


Ready to Start a Medical Wellness Program? Start Here. 

If you work in the fitness industry, you know physical activity is a key component of overall well-being and can be increased through lifestyle changes, such as joining and attending a health club.

(Photo courtesy of ACAC)

Your health club has the potential to be a critical resource for getting deconditioned, sick, and inactive individuals healthy. Health clubs provide a safe and supportive environment for pursuing healthy lifestyle change such as increasing physical activity. And medical wellness programs can be a great way to reach new members outside the 18-20% already exercising in health clubs.

However, it’s important to consider a few things before you start. In his session "Making Your Club the Pharmacy to Fill Exercise Prescriptions," Dr. Greg Degnan medical director at ACAC, highlighted a few questions you should ask yourself before starting a new program.

Continue reading "Ready to Start a Medical Wellness Program? Start Here."

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Prescription for Better Health: Filling Exercise Prescriptions in Your Club

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Or at least, it used to. Today, many people around the world need more than a few servings of fruit to maintain a clean bill of health.

Physical activity is a key component of overall well-being and can be increased through lifestyle changes, such as joining and attending a health club. Your health club has the potential to be a critical resource for getting deconditioned, sick, and inactive individuals healthy. Health clubs provide a safe and supportive environment for pursuing healthy lifestyle change such as increasing physical activity.

One key to becoming a resource is developing successful relationships with medical professionals—doctors, physical therapists, and dietitians—in your area, so that they confidently refer patients to your club or fitness professionals.

Doctors have significant power to influence the behavior of their patients; when they say, “exercise,” patients get moving.

Physicians and other professionals want to send their patients to a place that is safe, clean, un-intimidating, and well-staffed facility in which they are most likely to succeed. The August edition of the “12 Months of Health Promotion” e-book provides best practice tips and resources that will help you get started implementing successful medical wellness programs in your club. 

This month’s resources include:  

  • 7 Best Practices for Medical Wellness
  • Medical Wellness Toolkit
  • Physician Outreach Toolkit
  • Relevant articles and blog posts to read and share 

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National Public Health Week: Recognizing Community Efforts to Improve Health

Every year, the first week of April marks National Public Health Week, a week to "recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation."

Health clubs play an important role in addressing some of these issues—namely physical inactivity and obesity. Clubs contribute to efforts to improve community health in a number of ways, from specific programs to community outreach to charitable donation. 

IHRSA has created several products in the past year to highlight clubs running successful programs addressing health issues and help other clubs implement their programs. These include:

Active Kids in the School & Community

Child obesity is a major health problem in the United States, where over 17% of children and adolescents are obese. Kids who are obese in childhood have a higher risk of remaining so in adulthood compared to their average-weight peers. 

The Active Kids in the School & Community e-book shares success stories from seven clubs running programs to get kids more active in their local community. 

Get the Active Kids in the School & Community e-book.

The Medical Wellness Toolkit

Children aren't the only ones suffering from obesity—in the U.S., over two-thirds of the population is overweight and one-third is obese. Obesity puts adults at a higher risk for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Physical inactivity is also an independent risk factor for those conditions, but only 20% of the population exercises at a health club.

Medical wellness programs can help clubs reach those people who normally may never set foot in a club, due to intimidation, lack of self-efficacy, or other barriers. 

The Medical Wellness Toolkit was created to help clubs design and implement medical wellness programs and better collaborate with the medical community. The toolkit also highlights several clubs running successful medical programs of their own.

Get the Medical Wellness Toolkit.


#WhyGetActive is a social media movement to reign in the physical inactivity crisis that feeds chronic diseases, drives healthcare spending, and escalates economic uncertainty in the United States and worldwide.

Spearheaded by IHRSA, #WhyGetActive is an inspirational movement that provides a worldwide platform for sharing the many compelling reasons for being physically active, and fosters a cultural shift toward wellness—wherein physically active lifestyles are encouraged, supported, and easier to sustain.

You can get involved in #WhyGetActive in several ways:

  1. Share why you choose to pursue an active lifestyle using the #WhyGetActive hashtag on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.
  2. Encourage your members to share their reasons #WhyGetActive on social media by promoting the hashtag at your club. 
  3. Use the hashtag to discuss healthy lifestyle topics or share news articles on the benefits of exercise.
  4. Sign up for the Health Benefits of Exercise Report and follow the IHRSA blog for more health and wellness updates. 

Learn more about #WhyGetActive.


Keys To Success for Medical Wellness Programs

Medical wellness has drawn increasing interest over the last few years at IHRSA. Last month at IHRSA 2016, acac Fitness & Wellness Centers Medical Advisor Dr. Greg Degnan spoke about the opportunities available to clubs entering the medical wellness space, factors to consider before adding a medical program, and keys to implementing successful programs. 

There Are Opportunities for Clubs

The healthcare and health club industries have historically been separate, with little overlap or communication. However, there have always been a few champions—physicians who worked out at a club, or who embraced the importance of physical activity for their patients.

But now the time for closer ties is right, due to changes in healthcare. Initiatives like "Exercise Is Medicine" are growing, obesity is now recognized as a disease, and the Affordable Care Act has signaled the importance of prevention and opened the door to reimbursement for preventive and wellness services.

The fitness industry can find several opportunities in the 80% of the population that does not currently use a health club. If clubs can reach this group and help them get results, they will create loyal, long term members while adding to their membership base overall.   

Integrating Medical Wellness Into Your Club: A Road Map

When you’re ready to implement a medical wellness program, there are four key components to keep in mind. 

  1. Decide what level of commitment and programming your club can offer. This will depend on three areas: facilities, programming, and cost. Do you have space in your brick and mortar location or is a virtual “off site” program more realistic? Do you have enough staff with the right skills (remember, you’re dealing with patients)? What kind of price model will you be able to offer?
  2. Embrace the top-down culture change necessary to make the program succeed. This means ownership must buy in to the fact that these types of programs often call for a different sales and training process and team than used for your typical members. Choosing the right teams for this group will be a key to success.
  3. Make your facilities a safe haven. Healthcare providers need to know their patients are safe in your club, not just physically, but emotionally. Providers will look for a layout friendly to people with limitations, a non-intimidating environment, and a social atmosphere. It is also beneficial to have every person in the club—not just raining staff—CPR and AED certified. A pool is not required, but it’s a bonus.
  4. Commit to marketing and outreach. You’ll need to reach beyond your members’ community to be successful, and the marketing will be different as you are not appealing to the fitness consumer but to their gate keeper—the physician. 

Recognizing the importance of physician outreach in the success of medical wellness programs, IHRSA worked with Dr. Degnan and acac p.r.e.p. Director Kelly Lynn to produce a new toolkit for members.

The “Using The Physician Outreach Model to Grow Medical Wellness Programs” toolkit is designed to assist the IHRSA members that are unfamiliar with this model and are interested in learning more about the merits of utilizing physician outreach. The toolkit focuses on defining the physician outreach model and providing insights into how to make medical wellness programs under this model work for your club and community.

Get the CEO Pledge Toolkit (Member Login Required)


Effect and Cost Effectiveness of Exercise Referral Programs 

An exercise referral program is a system by which healthcare providers refer their patients to outside exercise providers. These programs are widely used in the United Kingdom (UK). A review published in the journal Health Technology Assessment examines the clinical effectiveness and cost savings of exercise referral programs in the UK and provides updates to a review conducted in 2009. The review identified two new studies, to total eight studies involving 5,190 participants. 

The results showed that the proportion of people exercising 90-150 minutes or longer was greater in the exercise referral group than among people who were not referred for exercise. In addition, data from qualitative studies indicated that developing social networks and support was beneficial in increasing uptake and maintenance of activity. Researchers also concluded that these programs did produce cost savings, although the amount was variable. Health clubs provide a safe, social place for people to pursue exercise.

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Source: Campbell F1, Holmes M1, Everson-Hock E1, Davis S1, Buckley Woods H1, Anokye N2, Tappenden P1, Kaltenthaler E1. A systematic review and economic evaluation of exercise referral schemes in primary care: a short report. Health Technol Assess. 2015 Jul;19(60):1-110. doi: 10.3310/hta19600.


Exercise Training May Provide Alternative To Medicine For Preventing Dementia

Some studies have indicated that both exercise and leisure time physical activity can protect neuropsychological function and thus reduce the risk of dementia. A study published in the Dutch journal Age tested the impact of varying levels of physical activity on neuropsychological function in older adults. The study assigned 51 sedentary people to either stay sedentary, engage in leisure time physical activities, or participate in exercise training for six months. 

The results showed that after six months, the active group improved their neuropsychological functioning whereas that of the sedentary and leisure groups declined. The authors of the study concluded that, “aerobic physical fitness programs can partially serve as a non-medication alternative for maintaining and improving these functions in older adults.” 

Antunes HKI, Santos-Galduroz RF, De Aquino Lemos V, Bueno OF, Rzezak P, de Santana MG, De Mello MT. The influence of physical exercise and leisure activity on neuropsychological functioning in older adults. Age (Dordr). 2015 Aug;37(4):9815. doi: 10.1007/s11357-015-9815-8. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

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Demystifying HIPAA: Understanding HIPAA and How It Applies To Your Club

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act - oft known as HIPAA - was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The law was designed with two purposes: to ensure that employees could move between jobs without losing their health insurance, as well as to protect the security and privacy of patient health information and standardize regulation of electronic data transmission.

As more and more clubs are beginning to collaborate with the medical community, clubs wonder whether or not HIPAA applies to them, or whether it could apply in the future.

IHRSA collaborated with three industry experts to produce an e-book entitled Demystifying HIPAA: Understanding How HIPAA Relates To Your Club. The e-book to help demystify HIPAA regulations for health club professionals. 


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Exercise As Effective As Medicine In The Treatment of Some Chronic Disease 

A study in the British Medical Journal: Clinical Research Ed. conducted a large review to compare the effect of drug interventions and exercise interventions on premature death in people with chronic disease. The review included 305 studies involving over 339,000 patients. 

The results showed that there was no difference between exercise and drug therapy for the secondary prevention (treating a condition early to reverse or prevent progression of that condition) of coronary heart disease and pre-diabetes. Exercise proved better than drug therapy for rehabilitating stroke patients; however, among heart failure patients diuretics were more effective than exercise in treating existing heart failure. 

This study suggests that exercise and medicine are often similar in effect for the treatment of several chronic conditions. However, exercise is typically more cost effective than medication, and health clubs can offer a safe, supportive alternative or enhancement to medication for some patients.

Naci H, Ioannidis JP. Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study. BMJ. 2013 Oct 1;347:f5577. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f5577.


UK University Launches New Resource To Train Tomorrow's Doctors In Using Exercise As Medicine

The need for more education and instruction on physical activity in medical schools has been recognized for several years. In response, the University of Nottingham in Nottingham, England is launching a new resource designed to train future doctors on the importance of exercise in clinican treatment and prevention of disease. The Nottingham University Medical School Core Exercise Medicine and Chronic Disease module was developed by a team of exercise medicine experts and provides instruction and recommendations for using physical activity in the treatment of a variety of non-communicable conditions. 

This is great news, and hopefully just the beginning of a larger trend. Dr. Eddie Phillps often expresses his goal to see more physical activity education implemented in American medical schools. Dr. Phillips, a regular speaker at the IHRSA Convention and Trade Show, is an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and director of outpatient medical services of the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Network in Boston, and serves as the Chair of the Exercise is Medicine Education Committee.

Why Does This Matter?

Physicians can be very influential in guiding their patients behaviors, and doctors who understand the value and benefits of exercise can better direct their patients to the resources they need (like health clubs and fitness professionals) to improve their health through exercise. On the new resource, Professor Ian Hall, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Nottingham University, commented: "We believe exercise should be an integral part of the prevention, treatment and management of many chronic or non-infectious diseases and the medical profession should be more pro-active in its promotion of physical exercise in the future.” Pharmacist Ann Gates, who coordinated the new training resource, added “Unfortunately, undergraduate medical schools have not been giving a high enough priority to the promotion of exercise in disease prevention and treatment. Our new undergraduate module aims to put this right. Tomorrow’s doctors need to be trained to deliver safe and effective exercise advice for tomorrow’s patients as all clinical practitioners are important influencers of patient behaviour.” 

What Is IHRSA (And Their Members) Doing?

The demand for medical wellness programs in health clubs is expanding as the many benefits of exercise for health become more widely recognized. Many health clubs across the United States have begun offering phsycian referral programs. And last year IHRSA introduced two resources to help clubs implement successful programs to improve the health and well-being of their members. 

1. The Medical Wellness Toolkit, a comprehensive resource to help IHRSA member clubs implement successful physician referral programs in their clubs (member login required).

2. The Value of Exercise Prescription E-Book, making the case for prescribing exercise to patients and referring them to a health club to fill that prescription.

Read the full article from Nottingham University.


Health Benefits of Exercise Report March 24th, 2014: Introducing the Medical Wellness Toolkit

Want to get more doctors referring their patients to your clubs? We've got a toolkit for that. During the IHRSA Convention in 2013, members expreessed interested in developing medical wellness and physician referral in their clubs, but many struggled with getting into the doctors office and getting the process started. In response, IHRSA did extensive research and worked with our clubs leading the way in medical wellness to develop the IHRSA Medical Wellness Toolkit. 

The Toolkit is a comprehensive resource to help IHRSA member clubs implement successful physician referral programs in their clubs. The toolkit includes:

  • Tips for connecting with physicians and other practitioners in your area
  • A summary of the health benefits of exercise
  • Best practices for creating and implementing medical wellness programs
  • Templates to help you build and improve your programs

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In This Issue:

1. Physical Activity Is Associated With Lower Rates of Premature Death Among Breast and Colon Cancer Survivors

2. Physically Active Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Experience Milder Disease

3. Lower BMI, Leisure Time Physical Activity Associated With Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease