Tags: Heart Disease | High Blood Pressure | Obesity | exercise | vital | sign | blood

Docs Urged to Treat Exercise Like Blood Pressure in Patients

By Nick Tate   |   Thursday, 17 Oct 2013 04:03 PM

Doctors should check their patient physical activity levels as routinely as they take their blood pressure, according to a new recommendation from the American Heart Association.
Authors of the guideline, published in the AHA journal Circulation, argue that physical fitness is as important to heart health as other vital signs and lifestyle factors — such as smoking and drinking — that doctors routinely check during physical exams to identify risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

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"Most healthcare providers have not routinely assessed physical activity levels among their patients because they have not had the right tools," said Scott Strath, lead author of the statement and associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's College of Health Sciences. "Yet, physical inactivity is about as bad for you as smoking."
The new recommendation details a variety of options doctors can use to evaluate their patients, including low-cost or no-cost options, such as questionnaires that patients complete during an appointment.
An exercise checkup should cover types, frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity at work, home, and during leisure time, the statement said. In addition, doctors should counsel patients on how to include more exercise in their daily lives and do a physical activity assessment as part of routine medical care, Strath said.
Federal health authorities and the American Heart Association recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week or more, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days a week or more.

Most adults should also do moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening at least two days a week.
But studies show most Americans don't routinely get that much exercise.

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