Ten thousand steps and more. Do you have five minutes, or at least one, to talk about physical activity (PA) with your patients? Putting medicine in motion and, more precisely, providing a toolbox for healthcare professionals so that they can discuss the subject with their patients, even briefly, and thus help to make them more active. This is the goal of Moving Medicine, an original initiative created by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (Edinburgh), the body responsible for the development and governance of sports and exercise medicine in the United Kingdom.
As effective as pills in many diseases, PA is not recognized for its true value and remains insufficiently prescribed by the medical profession. “In the UK, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of ill health (…). She is responsible for one in six deaths, which is equivalent to smoking ”, points out the Moving Medicine website, emphasizing that compliance with AP recommendations would, however, prevent up to 40% of long-term illnesses.
« It is proven that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a nurse or general practitioner, but almost three quarters of these do not talk about the benefits of physical activity to their patients for lack of knowledge, skills or confidence ”, says Lacey Anning, coordinator of this project.
To make their task easier, the Moving Medicine site offers very pragmatic supports depending on the age of the patients, the clinical context (cancer, depression, diabetes, amputation, pregnancy, etc.) but also – and this is undoubtedly the smartest idea of its creators – of the time that can be devoted to it during the consultation: one minute, five or more. In the same spirit, a section is devoted to the hospital environment.
Benefits far greater than the risks
Recently the Moving Medicine team released a consensus text in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, recalling that in chronic diseases the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks. However, the latter can be perceived as important by patients and constitute a barrier to practices. To overcome reluctance, these authors recommend carefully informing chronically ill patients about the (rare) contraindications to PA and the main symptoms that may appear during exertion (pain, fatigue, palpitations, etc.).
Launched in England and Scotland at the end of 2018, the initiative is starting to develop in other countries, notably in Australia, but no contact has yet been established with the French. “It is an enormous job and a practical answer to the needs of doctors who often feel helpless on these subjects and say they lack time”, enthuses cardiologist François Carré (Rennes University Hospital), who discovers the project.
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Medicine in motion to get patients moving