PINEHURST – Exercise is Medicine (EIM) is a health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise and Medical Fitness Association, which last month announced a new approach toward addressing the rapid progression of chronic diseases and skyrocketing health care costs in the U.S.
FirstHealth Fitness Director John Caliri met with Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC), of North Carolina’s Second District (pictured), and the staff of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. Caliri was in the nation’s capital for a major announcement concerning the Exercise is Medicine program.
John Caliri, director of FirstHealth Fitness, was present for the announcement at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The program also included a keynote address by former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., a longtime supporter of the positive role that an active lifestyle plays in good health.
The goal of the new EIM initiative is to bring together health care systems, providers, fitness professionals and community resources in an effort to reduce health care costs and affect positive health outcomes. The multi-pronged approach will include physical activity counseling and prescription and referral strategies, especially those linking health care and community-based resources.
“Fifty years of data has shown that exercise works for 80 percent of the illnesses that plague Americans,” Caliri says. “We know it works. It’s now a matter of getting people to buy into that concept with what we anticipate will be the resulting positive effect on the health care system and the community. If the health care system is going to be changing with population health management, this has to be a part of it. You have to be proactive; you can’t just be reactive.”
FirstHealth Fitness has offered an EIM program for more than five years. After a physician referral, participants meet with an exercise specialist to develop goals and get an “Exercise Prescription” along with a two-week complimentary membership in the FirstHealth Fitness center of their choice. The results of their participation in the program are then shared with their referring physician who incorporates the information into the individual patient’s health care plan.
Since its implementation, the FirstHealth Fitness program has received 4,685 patient referrals from 358 health care providers representing 19 medical different specialties.
For more information on FirstHealth’s Exercise is Medicine program, visit www.firsthealth.org/fitness.