Exercise is Medicine® | Tampa General Hospital

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.

TampaWell Testimonials

“I’d had friends pass away from heart attacks - and when you get older, you start worrying about these things! When I said to my primary care doc ‘gaining two pounds isn’t so bad, right?!’ she reminded me that I’d gained two pounds each visit, and that it adds up! She urged me to really think about doing some other things exercise-wise, so I started taking bike rides around my neighborhood several evenings a week and made little changes to my eating. I started losing two pounds a month, and by the time I had my next appointment with Dr. Sharma six months later, I’d lost 12 pounds! My blood pressure was the best it’s been in ages. I was sleeping soundly again. It was incredible. I’d been taking care of myself spiritually, but once I started taking care of my body as well, it gave me such a lift in my mental state and overall well-being.”
- Jeffrey King, patient at TGMG

 "Being a part of this TampaWell project is really fulfilling to me personally. One of the foundations of mental and emotional health is exercise. It can help with the prevention of several chronic diseases. Unfortunately, most physicians don't emphasize it enough in their visits. We're working to change the culture. To be a wellness innovator and promote this sense of optimal wellness to my patients and to join a shared purpose with the patients, the community and the hospital - it's so rewarding and fulfilling for me. It's part of my own medical philosophy."
- Dr. Tanuja Sharma, MD, Medical Director of Integrative Medicine and Arts