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Entries in prescribing exercise (8)


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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This Week in the Fitness Industry: Health Clubs House Boutique Studios to Meet Demand

Health Clubs House Boutique Studios to Meet Specialized Exercise Demand
Increasingly, consumers are expecting their exercised to be specialized—a trend reflected in the growth of boutique studios. And now health clubs are responding to that demand by housing boutique clubs within their facility, The Wall Street Journal reports. “More health clubs are inviting specialty studios—even competitors—to set up shop inside their walls,” the Journal states. “Typically, members receive a discount to these studios and nonmembers are drawn into gyms they might otherwise ignore. The idea is to blend a boutique’s allure and expert instruction with the foot traffic and existing infrastructure of a larger facility.” 

Study: 60 Seconds of Strenuous Exertion Yields Same Benefits as Longer, Moderate Exercise
One minute of rigorous exercise may be as beneficial for health and fitness as 45 minutes of moderate exercise, according to a study by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. For the study, researchers randomly divided 25 out-of-shape men into three groups: one group changed nothing about their exercise routines, the second began an endurance-workout routine on stationary bikes, and the third began an interval training routine on stationary bikes. After 12 weeks, researchers found that the exercisers saw identical gains, whether they had completed the lengthy, endurance workouts or the short, intense intervals. “The upshot of these results is that three months of concerted endurance or interval exercise can notably—and almost identically—improve someone’s fitness and health,” The New York Times reports. “Neither approach to exercise was, however, superior to the other, except that one was shorter—much, much shorter.” 

New York Classpass Members Outraged by Another Price Hike
Classpass, the fitness company that enables members to attend different types of exercise classes at multiple health clubs and studios, sparked outrage among its New York users on Wednesday when it sent an email alerting them to a yet another price increase, according to Business Insider. Members who currently have Classpass’ unlimited plan will go from paying $125/month to $190/month for the same service. Members shared their outrage on social media, where many pointed out that Classpass, which initially offered its unlimited plan for $99/month, raised its price nearly $100 over the span of 10 months. “As our community of members has grown, it’s become clear that our business must evolve to meet their needs,” the email stated. “Studio drop-in rates in the New York City metro area are as high as $35, and in order to build a membership that’s best for our customers and for our business, we can no longer sustain a one-size-fits-all Unlimited membership at our current rates.” 

Can America’s Doctors Lead Us to Better Health?
While fitness is a proven path to better health, just 9% of doctor’s office visits include physical activity counseling—a disconnect that may be caused by the way physicians are trained and paid, according to Helen Durkin, executive vice president of public policy for IHRSA, and Edward M. Phillips, MD, assistant professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, and director, Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, in a Medical Economics article. “Historically, the focus of the U.S. medical system has been on treating illness. And frankly, doctors tend to view their role as deliverers of the cure—with relatively little time or training spent on prevention or health promotion,” the article states. “But with often-avoidable chronic diseases now the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, doctors need to start seeing themselves less as mechanics applying a fix once disease appears, and more as leaders of our country’s wellbeing. It’s time for our healthcare system at large to rethink what it really means to heal.” Read our ‘Can America’s Doctor’s Lead Us to Better Health?’ blog post.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: 24 Hour Fitness Supports Five TEAM USA Athletes 

24 Hour Fitness Partners with Five Team USA Athletes
24 Hour Fitness has announced its partnership with “Team 24 Hour Fitness,” five athletes expected to represent Team USA at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. “Our distinguished athletes come from diverse backgrounds. They are each compelling, inspiring and relatable,” Mark Smith, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, said in a release. “The athletes that make up Team 24 have embarked on the fitness journey of a lifetime and we look forward to sharing their stories with our members in the weeks ahead. It’s moments like this that reaffirm our commitment to helping people – everyday athletes and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls alike – reach their fitness goals.” The five athletes include a swimmer, triathlete, a middle distance runner, a Paralympic long jumper, and a Paralympic swimmer.

More Doctors Prescribing Exercise Over Medication
A growing number of physicians are prescribing exercise—not medication—to treat their patients’ chronic health problems, according to a report in The Boston Globe. “In one such program run by a health center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, primary care physicians, internists and psychologists prescribe access to a gym for $10 a month, including free child care, classes, and kids programs,” The Globe reports. “Providing affordable gym access for patients ensures compliance, said Gibbs Saunders of Healthworks Community Fitness, a nonprofit gym in Dorchester that has partnered with several health care providers to help low-income residents fill their exercise prescriptions.” The health center’s executives said low-cost access to a gym is important, since many of their patients’ income is low and 70% of those they treat suffer from chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.

Study: Fitness Report Cards Have Negative Effect on Children
Giving schoolchildren “fitness report cards” may actually cause overweight girls to gain more weight, according to a study of New York City public schools’ “Fitnessgrams.” Researchers analyzed 442,408 anonymized BMI records of New York City girls whose weight placed them just above and below the “overweight” cutoff for their age between 2007 and 2012. They found that “girls who were told they were overweight gained, on average, 0.17 pounds more than ‘healthy’ girls, and their BMI increased by 0.03 BMI more units, over the course of the following year,” Slate reports. “For girls who were told they had a ‘healthy’ weight one year and then told that they were ‘overweight’ the following year, the impact was even more pronounced—their BMI subsequently increased 0.07 BMI units more than girls whose weight remained ‘healthy.’”

High Body Fat—Not BMI—Linked with Higher Death Rate
High body fat—not BMI—is linked with a higher death rate, according to a study. CNN reports that the study’s researchers were able to look at participants’ total body directly because they selected individuals who had previously undergone X-ray testing to determine if they had decreased bone density. They found that the thinnest women with a BMI less than 22.5 (a group including underweight and normal weight women) had a 44% higher risk of dying during the seven-year follow-up period. They also found that women with more than 38.7% total body fat had 19% higher death rates. Among the thinnest men, those with a BMI less than about 23.8 had 45% higher death rates during a follow-up period of about 4.5 years, while men in the highest body fat group (more than 36% total body fat) were at 59% higher risk of dying during the study period. "Being underweight is a marker for illness in some individuals at the same time that being overweight and obese is not optimal for health,” the study’s lead author said.


Forget Pills—Exercise Is the Best Treatment for Lower-Back Pain

The health club industry has long-known that exercise can treat many ailments, and new research has added yet another condition to the growing list: lower-back pain.

Exercise reduced the risk of repeated lower-back pain in the year following an episode between 25-40%, according to a review published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The type of exercise did not appear to matter—core strengthening, aerobic exercise, flexibility, and stretching all proved beneficial.

"If there were a pill out there that could reduce your risk of future episodes of back pain by 30 percent, I'd probably be seeing ads on television every night," Dr. Tim Carey, an internist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who wrote an accompanying commentary in the journal, told NPR.

The research, conducted by a health researcher at University of Sydney in Australia, analyzed 21 global back pain studies, with data from 30,000 total participants.  

"Why are we not prescribing an inexpensive, effective treatment? Some of it is, I think, we don't think of exercise as being a treatment the way a tablet or a procedure or a physical therapy treatment might," Carey told NPR. "We're a fairly pill-oriented society. Pills are easy to take, and as a doctor, pills are easy to prescribe.”

For more on how the fitness industry can help reduce back pain, view IHRSA’s Health Benefits of Exercise Report archive.


Physicians Increasingly Prescribing Exercise

The Wall Street Journal has published an article on the progress Exercise is Medicine (R), a program that encourages doctors to prescribe physical activity, is making inside physicians' offices.
Read more from The Wall Street Journal...
IHRSA is a proud sponsor of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, which hosted the Exercise is Medicine conference mentioned in the article. IHRSA representatives, who've attended prior year's events say that the doctors in attendance enjoy the event, appreciate IHRSA's efforts and leave feeling motivated.

IHRSA and IHRSA clubs have also done their part to support and promote physician exercise prescription. Several IHRSA clubs have been offering Physician Referred Exercise Programs, otherwise known as P.R.E.P. for several years now. Last year IHRSA produced several resources to help member clubs implement medical wellness programs and connect with the medical community, namely the Medical Wellness Toolkit and Value of Exercise Prescription E-Book. IHRSA has also published an evidence library of sorts—this year the complete online archive of alll 800+ Health e-Review/ Health Benefits of Exercise Report articles went live.

See also: IHRSA has created "The Medical Wellness Toolkit" to help IHRSA members work with medical professionals in their communities.


Studies and Research is This Week in the Fitness Industry Theme

Phasinphoto image at FreeDigitalPhotos.netSometimes it is fun to have a theme for This Week in the Fitness Industry.

Today's entries are all studies and research that will make you sit back and think.

Here is what we have:

  • what is your fitness age?
  • wine instead of a workout?
  • not enough muscle strength training
  • more doctors talking about exercise

Read all of them in This Week in the Fitness Industry.

Click to read more ...


Doctors prescribing exercise for kids

Are you a parent of a kid who says they are bored and there is nothing to do?

Tell them to, "Get up, get out and get active." And, let them know that it is doctor's orders.

MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Boston is prescribing exercise for children. It has teamed up with The Appalachian Club to provide programs and events in order to get kids outside, away from computers and TV, and being active.

The Boston Globe has more in its story.


Reaching The Medical Community

This week, experts Amanda Harris, Dr. Wendy Williamson, Brad C. Wilkins, MBA, and Lloyd Gainsboro discuss how health clubs can reach out to the medical community:

Q: “How can we bridge the gap between the health club and the medical community? We want doctors to prescribe exercising at our club but don't know how to start reaching out.”

Amanda Harris, Vice President of Fitness & Wellness
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers

A: For the calendar year 2009 our company, Dedham Health & Athletic Complex will have 1500 physician referrals. 65 percent of these referrals will join our 60/60 Program with approximately 42 percent converting to 10 month memberships. Our goal for 2010 is to have 2500 referrals, 1625 joins and 731 conversions.

One of the ways we accomplish this goal is by having all of our fitness trainers have Bachelor of Science degrees in Exercise Physiology.

Additionally, we have a program which fulfills all the necessary processes and procedures of the medical community. It is HIPPA compliant and bullet proof to any criticism.

It is it very clear that we are not a typical “gym”. Presently we have two people, one who is full time and the other part time, on the road daily, seeing physicians. We also have ads on radio and television stations coupled with continuous hard work, focus and dedication. The branding of our facility permits us to be the antithesis of a “gym”. You need to totally deliver your product. Ours is “Exercise is Medicine”.

Lloyd Gainsboro, Dir. of Business Development
Dedham Health & Athletic Complex

A: A solid relationship between a health club and the medical community is one of the most sought after and coveted in the industry. It’s one that most individuals in the industry think should be easy to establish (due to the obvious benefits of exercise), yet it’s not. However, it is worth pursuing; because the right relationship can pay big dividends.

So, how do you get started finding this coveted relationship? You network, network, and network. The thing to recognize is that it is a relationship, and like any solid relationship it takes communication, trust, respect, and dependability to be successful. Before you prospect potential medical community partners it is first important to understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses and what added value the company brings into a relationship. For an example, your club may have a particular niche or area of expertise with special populations (Parkinson’s, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc...). Secondly, it’s just as important for you to understand the goals, needs, and/or desires of the medical partner. Discover if there is something you can do for the medical facility in return – either in terms of promoting them at your facility or maybe sending a staff person there to do on-site exercise classes, lectures, or demos. Doing so will allow you to showcase your company’s value by aligning your strengths with their wants. The key is to create value for both parties.

So, how do you get started finding this coveted relationship? You network, network, and network. Utilize the relationships you’ve established with friends, clients, members, and/or businesses within your community to find your potential medical partners.

All solid relationships take time to develop. Take your time and find the right partner.

Brad C. Wilkins, MBA, Director of Fitness Management and Development
Cooper Fitness Center, a Cooper Aerobics Company

A: In order for doctors to prescribe exercise at your club several things need to happen.

  1. Professional relationships need to be established;
  2. Fitness professionalism needs to be displayed; and
  3. Further education and skill sets need to be developed.

Many medical professionals walk through your clubs daily. Do you know who they are? Are they willing to present to your staff from a previously prepared “talk?”

Attending social events, open houses, sporting events are many reasons when interaction with the medical community can take place. Are you professionally interacting with the medical staff when seeking medical releases? The staff is just as important as the physician or surgeon.

Physicians often look to us for developing an exercise program. It is our job to provide suggestions. Have you offered a complimentary session to the doctors? We seek medical approval and additional information, but we also need to illustrate our assessment results and possible plan of action.

Respect, referral and reciprocation cannot take place until the fitness professional has proven their level of knowledge and experience. The demand for medical wellness is great and the potential revenue is unbelievable. Regardless of the recession, this specialty area has enormous potential.

Dr. Wendy Williamson, Post Rehabilitation Specialist
Genesis Health Clubs-Rock Road