A recently published study of nearly 2 million people in Kaiser’s southern California network found that less than a third met physical activity guidelines during the program’s first year ending in March 2011. That’s worse than results from national studies. But promoters of the vital signs effort think Kaiser’s numbers are more realistic because people are more likely to tell their own doctors the truth.
Dr. Elizabeth Joy of Salt Lake City has created a nearly identical program and she expects 300 physicians in her Intermountain Healthcare network to be involved early this year.
“There are some real opportunities there to kind of shift patients’ expectations about the value of physical activity on health,” Joy said.
NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago’s northern suburbs plans to start an exercise vital sign program this month, eventually involving about 200 primary care doctors.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski, a NorthShore family and sports medicine specialist, already asks patients about exercise. She said some of her diabetic patients have been able to cut back on their medicines after getting active.
Dr. William Dietz, an obesity expert who retired last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said measuring a patient’s exercise regardless of method is essential, but that “naming it as a vital sign kind of elevates it.”
Figuring out how to get people to be more active is the important next step, he said, and could have a big effect in reducing medical costs.
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner
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