Exercise best prescription for longevity, healthy life

ALBANY, Ga. -- Prevention of chronic disease has a not-so-magic pill. It is exercise.

"The life expectancy of someone in their 80s who exercises is the same as someone in their 60s who doesn't," said Adrian Hutber, vice president of "Exercise is Medicine."

Hutber spoke at the monthly meeting of the Dougherty County Medical Society Tuesday night in the Albany Art Museum's auditorium.

There are four health-risk behaviors that can be changed that could prevent chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death in the country, said Hutber, also a member of the American College of Sports medicine.

Those factors, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking and excessive alcohol drinking lead to heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes among other chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, cdc.gov/chronicdisease.

"Ranked number one in risk factors is physical inactivity," Hutber said.

Hutber spoke to about 25 members of the society in an effort to bring their attention to the efforts of his organization to educate physicians and other health-care provides to make prescriptions of exercise a routine part of their practice.

"Our mission is to make sure that exercise is front and center in every discussion on disease prevention health and wellness," according Hutber's organization's website, exerciseismedicine.org.

Merely telling a patient to go out and exercise was not really the way to go, Hutber said. Exercise must be prescribed in the right amount for the patient much like a vaccination, he added.

A typical prescription that studies have shown improve the health of patients is moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week, he said.

Moderate means that the person exercising can talk but not sing as they take part in cardio-vascular exercise such as walking. The time can be broken up into five 30 minute sessions during a week.

"Weekend warriors can do 75 minutes on Saturday and then 75 minutes on Sunday," Hutber said.

To facilitate physicians prescribing exercise for their patients Hutber's organization works toward having insurance reimburse doctors for their time in discussing the exercise prescription to a patient and offers education to medical schools and physician offices among other efforts.

The physicians in attendance listened intently, nodded agreement with Hutber and were in agreement with his statements.

"If I could find a way to put the health benefits of exercise into a pill," said Harry Dorsey, a member of the society, "I would win the Nobel Prize in medicine."