Exercise Is Medicine IV

Published on May 11, 2021


Mike Alpert
COO Smart Health Clubs at Smart Health Clubs

May 11, 2021

Although I do not know Cosmo Wollon, I want to thank him for reading my recent article and for taking the time to give his input and opinion on Exercise and Fitness. A counter perspective is always a good thing and we can certainly learn from them. After all, that is what makes our country so fantastic: people are encouraged to have different opinions on a subject or issue and we should all be open to listening and considering their point of view. We can then come to our own conclusion.

Let me start by saying that Exercise is Medicine is a term that I referred to back in the early 1990’s when I was a Managing Partner at The Athletic Club of Bend, in Bend, Oregon. I saw the powerful effect that exercise had on children we were working with who were struggling with severe physical challenges. But actually Exercise is Medicine is a joint initiative between the American College of Sports Medicine and the AMA that was started in 2007 by my good friend and colleague, Dr. Robert Sallis when he served as the President of ACSM. It has been endorsed by the US Surgeon General and is a trademarked phrase.

In my last article I begin the 3rd paragraph by saying that overall health includes nutrition as-well-as exercise. So I was not insinuating that nutrition was exercise, but rather, that it is and should be a part of a person’s overall fitness program in order for them to obtain optimal health. So many Club members don’t think that they need nutrition counseling because they are working out regularly. Yet over the years I have seen the same members doing cardio and strength workouts; perspiring profusely and their body image never seemed to change. From talking with members over 30 years I would ask them if they had eaten and hydrated prior to their workouts and the high majority that did their workouts early in the morning or came to the Club after work would invariably say that they had not. Without fuel in the gas tank, the car won’t run and without food in your body, you will burn muscle instead of fat.

It is just my opinion, and one that I feel very strongly about that exercise and proper nutrition should go hand in hand. And Exercise is Medicine’s goal is to merge health care with fitness. It includes traditional medical care; integrated medicine; complimentary care; mental health; stretching and nutrition. It is the whole package.

Cosmo is spot on with his points on physician referrals. Doctors will be looking for highly credentialed specialists who they feel comfortable sending their patients to. It should not be about building your bottom line, but, rather, having the personnel and programs that will render positive outcomes in a safe and inviting environment. And it is critical to develop and maintain strong relationships with physicians, clinicians and hospital CEO’s in your community. They need to be part of the continuum of care even after traditional care has been exhausted.

At The Claremont Club we chose to develop our programs around people who were struggling with chronic injuries and chronic illnesses. One reason we did this was because we felt that these were people who needed us the most and could afford us the least. Many times I spoke with people who had lost their home or car and worried everyday about how they would be able to feed their family or take care of their children. They had been forced to deplete so much of their earnings and in many cases were unable to work. So for far too many, money will be an issue and no matter how good your results might be, they will not be able to afford to be in the program. And they deserve and need to be. So you must do your best to work with a non-profit in your community and also be committed to doing your share of fundraising.

The good news is that in many cases, insurance is reimbursing for fitness and nutrition programs and I know that 3rd party reimbursement for at risk populations with chronic health issues is coming soon!

So thank you Cosmo for your comments and input. I know you are fighting the good fight.

And, Exercise is Medicine, and it is the strongest medicine we have today.