Exercise is Medicine®

Lack of exercise is a direct contributor of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases. Yet, more than half of adults do not the meet national guidelines for physical activity. It’s a problem that TampaWell and Tampa General Hospital are working to change through an innovative program called Exercise is Medicine.

Physicians at TGH are now prescribing exercise to patients and documenting physical activity as a vital sign in patients’ medical records, comparable to blood pressure or cholesterol. The goal behind this wellness revolution is ensuring doctors and patients talk about exercise and incorporate physical activity as part of the treatment plan, in addition to medications or other therapies.

“To be a wellness innovator and promote this sense of optimal wellness to my patients, the hospital and the larger community is so rewarding to me. It’s part of my own medical philosophy,” said Dr. Tanuja Sharma, medical director of Integrative Medicine and Arts at TGH.

Beyond the prescription, TGH provides added support to help patients adopt physical activity as part of their treatment plan. Patients are referred to evidence-based exercise programs, qualified exercise professionals and other community resources. TGH also provides a starter kit with a fitness journal, resistance band, towel, water bottle, a list of recommended fitness smart phone apps, and instructions for connecting those apps to their MyChart electronic medical record.

Exercise is Medicine Solution was launched by the American College of Sports Medicine and is founded on the belief that physical activity is integral to patient health and improved treatment outcomes. Currently, Exercise is Medicine is limited to the Tampa General Medical Group practices: at Armenia, Kennedy and Healthpark. Expansion to other TGH practices is planned.