Everybody knows that exercise is one of the fundamental aspects of living a fit and healthy lifestyle. Just some of the benefits of exercise include weight control, disease prevention, energy boosting, stress relief and sleep improvements. It’s been proven time and time again that a lack of exercise can lead to poor life quality and early mortality. A sedentary lifestyle can even be more damaging than obesity.
Plenty of research has indicated that exercise can be effective in treating specific conditions as well. It’s been proven to help with depression, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many others. It also can improve memory and brainpower. Unfortunately, a new study says that many medical schools simply aren’t teaching doctors to use exercise in their treatment plans. The results of the study might be indicative of a problem within the culture of the medical industry.
Most Medical Schools Don’t Require Exercise Training
Oregon State University researchers published their new findings in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Their study methods involved analyzing the websites of all accessible and accredited institutions that offer doctor of medicine and doctor of osteopathic medicine coursework. Among the 118 schools studied, 51 percent offered no classes whatsoever related to exercise. Twenty-one percent offered only one class. Also, a whopping 82 percent of schools do not require students to take courses regarding physical activity. Of course, it’s possible that medical schools are providing more exercise education than is shown in their published curriculums, but health experts seem to agree that the requirements are far too low in general.
The accompanying press release also points out that a lack of exercise training in medical schools could be detrimental to the Healthy People 2020 plan, which is the U.S. government’s initiative to improve the health of the nation in the coming years. The plan stresses the importance of exercise for preventing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, stroke and many other conditions. At the same time, the initiative emphasizes the importance of doctors educating their patients and recommending exercise as part of treatment plans.
Doctors Too Quick to Prescribe?
Medical schools failing to teach future doctors about exercise could potentially be seen as part of a bigger issue: physicians being too quick to prescribe drugs. While prescription drugs are an incredibly important part of modern medicine and help millions of people deal with medical conditions every day, they’re also just one option when it comes to treatment of certain diseases. For example, studies have shown that depression is often over-diagnosed and antidepressants are often over-prescribed. In cases where symptoms do not meet the criteria for major depression, exercise can be a very effective part of a treatment plan that also helps avoid some of the nasty side effects of antidepressants.
But it’s not just depression medication. Studies have shown all sorts of over-prescribing tendencies, including unnecessary antibiotics for children.
Medical Schools and Exercise: The Bottom Line
This study shows that doctors might not be suggesting exercise as a go-to treatment plan in cases where it could be greatly beneficial. So, patients may need to take the initiative and ask doctors how exercise could benefit their lifestyle or help treat their condition. If you think your doctor may be prescribing an unnecessary medication instead of a comprehensive treatment plan that could involve exercise, it might be worthwhile to get a second opinion.