Commentary: Exercise can be potent medicine

Exercise is better than any medication a doctor can prescribe for chronic disease.

This knowledge should be intuitive to physicians and patients, and yet we have an ever-increasing population who either do not exercise at all or don’t exercise enough. Multiple studies year after year continue to show the detrimental impact that physical inactivity can have on one’s health. In 2012, the prestigious medical journal Lancet released a series of studies that showed physical inactivity was the fourth-leading risk factor attributable to death. If we look at the Upstate, the top two leading causes – heart disease and cancer – have direct relationship to physical activity.

Now, from the heart of the stroke belt, comes a first-in-the-nation coalition that brings together medical school-based research with doctors, community resources and exercise professionals in an audacious partnership to slow the progression of inactivity-related chronic disease.

Greenville Health System (GHS), the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, the YMCA of Greenville and the American College of Sports Medicine have partnered on an innovative program called Exercise is Medicine Greenville. Its goal is making physical activity a standard in health care – that is, having your doctor talk about and prescribe exercise as part of your treatment plan just as he might prescribe medicine.

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