Why are Patients Reluctant to View Exercise as a Treatment Plan?

Mike Swoboda*

Why are Patients Reluctant to View Exercise as a Treatment Plan?

Regular weekly exercise not only improves quality of life in overweight and obese individuals and individuals with cardiorespiratory illness or disease, but will also save on healthcare costs. Research has indicated seniors (age <65-years) who regularly participate in an organized exercise program spend on average $1186-2144 less than their less active or sedentary peers. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)4 noted that only 22.9% of Americans achieved the weekly exercise recommendations of strength training two times per week, and at least 150-minutes of moderate-to-vigorous cardiovascular activity weekly.

With mounting positive evidence that regular exercise should be a part of all people’s lives, why is there a lack of exercise by individuals worldwide? This answer appears to be twofold, and
the main determining interaction is between the patient and their primary care physician.            One such issue is a general expectation of patients to be treated with medication by their PCP for their chief complaints of illness or chronic condition. While nations are starting to adopt
policies to reduce the prescription of excessive medications and medical testing, many patients still demand medications for treatment.

A paradigm shift of viewing exercise as something temporary to recover from injury or to be a short-term treatment needs to change to a lifelong endeavor. PCPs who are able to convey the value of exercise as a type of medicine, rather than something that should just be part of a patient’s life without a specific reason, will ultimately have the most success with longterm patient compliance.
Although intrinsic motivation is the most powerful form of motivation to elicit behavior change, it may be necessary for healthcare providers and employers to use extrinsic motivators to begin the process of behavior change. This could potentially include financial incentives and discounts on healthcare costs.

Obes Res Open J. 2019; 6(2): 35-36. doi: 10.17140/OROJ-6-140