Doctors are starting to give patients social prescriptions.
About a decade ago, a colleague told me about a cool new initiative, something called “Exercise Is Medicine.” The idea made total sense to me: Rather than just tell my patients about exercising, I would hand them an actual prescription for exercise, just like the ones I give patients for high blood pressure or diabetes. The thinking behind it was that an official “doctor’s order” for exercise, in the form of a prescription-pad-style piece of paper, would be taken more seriously by patients than a mere suggestion.
I quickly started giving out these prescriptions, going so far as to find some official-looking templates online and printing them out. I wrote out “dosages” based on each patient’s age and medical condition, and relying on evidence-based recommendations.
For example, for a person with diabetes, I might write a prescription that says:
Frequency: At least 3-4 days a week.
Intensity: Exercise at a moderate level.
Time: Exercise 30-60 minutes per day (all at once, or break it up into a few sessions of at least 10 minutes each).
Type: Aerobic or rhythmic exercises using the large muscle groups (walking, cycling, swimming). Weights 2x week.
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