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Your doctor should be asking you about this, says AHA

It’s “as bad for you as smoking”

October 15, 2013
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treadmillThe next time you go in for a checkup, in addition to checking your blood pressure and other cardiac risk factors, your doctor should ask how much you exercise.

That new recommendation from the American Heart Association (AHA) is because “physical inactivity is about as bad for you as smoking,” says Scott Stratch, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Health Sciences.

“Most healthcare providers have not routinely assessed physical activity levels among their patients because they have not had the right tools,” said Stratch, whose scientific statement on the subject was published in the AHA journal Circulation.

The new statement includes a “decision matrix” to help providers select the most appropriate evaluation method for their patients, including low-cost or no-cost options, such as questionnaires that patients complete when they arrive for their appointment.

From the AHA:

  • Doctors should evaluate patients’ physical activity habits as routinely as they
    check blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
  • Doctors should counsel patients on how to include physical activity in their lives.

An exercise checkup should cover types, frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity at work, home and during leisure time, the statement said.

Doctors should also counsel patients on how to include more exercise in their daily lives and do a physical activity assessment as part of routine medical care, Strath said.

TheAHA recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week or more, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days a week or more. You should also do moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening at least two days a week.

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