I read an interesting article on NPR this morning that encourages the practice of diagnosing patients with inactivity, or deconditioning. This idea is kind of intriguing. Should we treat lack of exercise as a medical condition? Should we push the public spotlight onto people who aren’t getting enough exercise? I say absolutely.
Scientific studies consistently demonstrate the direct link between overall health of a person with the amount of physical activity they subscribe too. Our society has pushed people into offices, away from manual labor. We no longer have to tend to our crops, or hunt down our food. In general, we really are depressingly immobile.
So, with that, what would happen if being inactive became a diagnosed medical condition? What if you were written a prescription to exercise, where instead of going to a pharmacy, you head to a gym and get access through your health insurance. Perhaps you could even use sick time to get your health and general fitness back on track. These ideas are kind of intriguing to me. It would clearly require a massive shift in our culture. Right now we expect people to be model-thin, to put in those many hours after work to get the six-pack abs. We have unrealistic ideas of perfection, without giving the majority of the population the lifestyles to achieve it.
In my opinion, inactivity should be treated as a medical condition. I think it might encourage some changes in our culture. There is already a growing movement to fight childhood obesity by limiting what food is available in schools, but what if that was taken to the next level for physical education too. Instead of just focusing on food, why not take a serious look at the current state of our early physical education system. As the article suggests, we need to make the physically active lifestyle the new normal, not the exception.
Imagine if people were given a prescription for exercise when they are diagnosed with heart-burn. I can almost see the consternation on the face of the patient, who expected a quick fix in pill form. What do you guys think about this? It is an interesting thought experiment and I’d love to hear more from other people.