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‘Exercise is Medicine’ comes to city

Adrian Hutber, vice president of “Exercise is Medicine” is in Albany this week to promote the message of physicial fitness to the area. He made two presentations at Darton College on Tuesday, and is expected to make one at Phoebe HealthWorks today.

Adrian Hutber, vice president of “Exercise is Medicine” is in Albany this week to promote the message of physicial fitness to the area. He made two presentations at Darton College on Tuesday, and is expected to make one at Phoebe HealthWorks today.

ALBANY, Ga. — Experts have said that the biggest change people can make to impact the way they live is behavior.

Fitting exercise into everyday life is just a small part of that.

Adrian Hutber, vice president of the “Exercise is Medicine” program, introduced the concept to the Albany area through two programs at Darton College Tuesday.

In the presentations Hutber made, he cited studies that indicates fitness can have an impact on mortality, cancer risk as well as overall health — particularly when activity is taken from a low level to a moderate level.

The impact on older adults can be surprising.

“It is never too late to do something about physical fitness as you get older,” Hutber said. “If you are in your 80’s and fit, you have a greater life expectancy than someone who is in their 60’s and not fit.”

Something that is important to remember is that fatness takes a backseat to fitness, as a low level of physical fitness is a big risk factor for a shortened life expectancy regardless how thin a person is.

“It is better to be fat and fit than to be thin and not fit,” Hutber said.

Generally, it is recommended that a person maintain an exercise regimen that allows them to work in 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes a week if it is vigorous activity.

Part of the solution, Hutber said, will be for the topic of physical activity to come up at a doctor’s visit, and to instruct physicians on how to properly write an “exercise prescription” that patients will maintain to its maximum benefit.

“We need to bring the health care and fitness worlds together,” he said.

Sponsored by the Dougherty County Medical Society, “Exercise is Medicine” is an initiative focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients.

It is committed to the belief that exercise and physical activity are integral to the prevention and treatment of diseases and should be regularly assessed as part of medical care.

Dr. Karen Lovett, an Albany radiologist and member of the medical society, brought the nationwide initiative to the area as part of a project she is currently conducting.

“It encourages physicians to factor in exercise as part of patient health,” she said. “We are trying to get physicians to think in that mode.”

While it’s a movement that does not directly impact her specialty, there is an incentive for radiologists to help prevent obesity.

“We see it in our practice all the time,” Lovett said. “We have difficulty imaging them (obese patients), and we have to increase the radiation dose.

“This message is directed at primary care physicians, but even we (radiologists) are affected.”

Exercise can also be a powerful complement to traditional medical intervention and, in many instances, may allow a physician to significantly reduce a patient’s drug dosage or eliminate the need for medicine altogether, experts say.

Hutber was also expected to carry his message to Phoebe HealthWorks at a luncheon program today.

Even healthy children as young as 9 years old can start to show an increased risk of future heart problems if they are physically inactive, according to a study in the May issue of “Acta Paediatrica.”

A new study has also highlighted the link between Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and comes at a time when incidence of both chronic conditions has been on the rise.

“(Exercise is Medicine) has a very good chance of having an impact here,” Lovett said. “It’s about getting the patient to do it and think about it. It’s to help get people in that mindset.”