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Medical Fitness…Using Exercise As Medicine

For the first time since its inception in 2007, Exercise is Medicine has broken the top 20 fitness trends according annual worldwide survey. While I’m excited about this news, the irony is that the fitness industry cannot currently keep up with the demand for experienced fitness professionals. Just ask the majority of club owners and fitness directors out there with understaffed fitness programs! As of December 2018, Exercise is Medicine is still an untapped service that has not only been ignored by fitness professionals but also by clubs as well. While personal training is still ranked as the most profitable service in most club programs, Exercise is Medicine (EIM) offers a potential “high-quality fit” for program options.

What Conditions Are Included in EIM Programs

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD], Asthma, Bronchitis, EmphysemaMetabolic DiseaseDiabetes Mellitus, Obesity, Blood Lipid Disorders

  • Cardiovascular Disease

    Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, Peripheral Vascular Disease, Alular Heart Disease

  • Pulmonary Disease

    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD], Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema

  • Metabolic Disease

    Diabetes Mellitus, Obesity, Blood Lipid Disorders

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM), a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), encourages primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans and to refer patients to evidence-based exercise programs and qualified exercise professionals, especially those with the EIM credential.

Why EIM Programs?

In 2014, President Obama identified “the biggest threat to our nation’s balance sheet.” Not major banks on the brink of insolvency. Not paralyzed credit markets. Not a bailout tab in the trillions. The biggest threat, he warned, “by a wide margin,” is “the skyrocketing price of health care.”

  • Seventy percent of the nation’s $3.5 trillion annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic conditions. These costs can be reduced.

  • Heart disease is increasing at a troubling pace in the United States, with costs expected to double from $555 billion in 2016 to a whopping $1.1 trillion in 2035, a new American Heart Association report estimates.

  • The estimated total economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2017 is $327 billion, a 26% increase from our previous estimate of $245 billion (in 2012 dollars)

  • Currently, estimates for these costs range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. In addition, obesity is associated with job absenteeism, costing approximately $4.3 billion annually and with lower productivity while at work, costing employers $506 per obese worker per year

Exercise is Medicine Service Delivery Format

Exercise is Medicine services can be provided as both land-based and water-based programming options. Depending on an individual’s employer benefits plans and/or healthcare provider, either all or part of these medically directed services can potentially be reimbursable. Virginia Premier is an example of an insurance carriers that recognize the credibility of EIM-type programming services. Medical Fitness Providers are fitness professionals who have a comprehensive knowledge of special populations and can do the following: strength training and physical conditioning, proprioceptive and balance training, joint mobility and stability training, neuromuscular re-education, muscular endurance training and stimulate improvements in cardiovascular function. In addition, they are trained to work with patients with chronic diseases where exercise training has been shown to be of therapeutic benefit, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and metabolic disorders. While credentials are indeed important, the ability to translate this knowledge into client-specific program design and training progression processes is the real professional test. A test that companies like HEALTH-E-FIT can assure doctors and the public that providers are highly qualified and exceed expectations. As more individuals who actively participate in the US healthcare system join gyms seeking solutions, the more we need to position EIM programs and facilities to address their medical needs in additional to their fitness needs. Ask your CFO if Exercise as Medicine and is it right for you.


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