Tag Archives: diabetes health and exercise

Did You Take Your Exercise Today?

Photo courtesy of photostock

Photo courtesy of photostock


When a physician prescribes us a medication, we take it right?

It’s assumed that exercise is important and great for health and wellness.  Maybe it’s so obvious many doctors don’t stress it very much and therefore miss a wonderful opportunity.  An opportunity to prescribe exercise.  The respect people have for doctors doesn’t seem to be as high as it used to be because we often feel let down by the system, but the respect for what doctors say individually tends to be pretty strong I think.  After all, we know they went to school for many years, they must know what they’re talking about.  They wear the snazzy white coat.  The’ve got the prestigious degree. 

I wish doctors would try prescribing exercise more.  I know some do but I don’t think enough do it.  If they did I think people might be more inclined to plan around their schedules and insert some exercise.  They might be more inclined to say, “Nope, can’t meet at that time, that half hour is for my walking-doctor’s orders.”  We don’t skip our pills do we?  When I went to a physical therapist years ago, I was ordered (“asked” if you prefer) to do a particular set of exercises.  Every day, I considered not doing them but then thought, “My doctor is going to ask me if I’ve done them or not” and so I did them.  I think the biggest impact with prescribing exercise is in the psychological effect.  The thought might cross my mind that, “I really need to take my medicine today”.  If that “medicine” is exercise, specifically prescribed by a doctor, maybe in a person’s mind there might be more motivation to do so. 

We all look for “outs” for the things we don’t feel like doing.  When we don’t want to exercise we might look to the fact our doctor hasn’t mentioned it or insisted upon it as a sort of excuse to ourselves not to do it.  It’s how we function.  I learned this through working at a call center for AARP 10 years ago.  Every day I talked to hundreds of customers, many of whom were calling because their medication was a day late.  These people put me through long monologues about how they needed to take their medication and could not skip a dose.  I completely understood of course, but what struck me as interesting was how many times I heard something like this: “I know I ordered my refills late but if you guys can’t send it to me right away and I have a heart attack, then I will let my doctor know it’s on YOU!” 

And no, I suppose this wouldn’t work for everyone.  Nothing works for everyone.  If it worked on a handful of people though, and I suspect it would work on more than that, I think it would be worth it.  As long as doctors were appropriate and kind when we didn’t take our “medicine” of course.  It’s not about them ordering us to do something.  It’s more about them acknowledging the benefits of exercise by really encouraging us to think of it being as important as taking our medications every day.

Exercise has been proven to help manage blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars, and alleviate depression and anxiety. 

So why wouldn’t a doctor insist on exercise with the same urgency with which he or she insists on us taking our pills?  I’ll be the first to admit, I listen when a doctor speaks.  Must be that nicely framed prestigious degree hanging in their office ;)