Get moving in May |

Get moving in May

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The month of May is Exercise is Medicine (EIM) Month. EIM is a global initiative to address physical inactivity, the greatest public health problem of the 21st century.

Through technological advances we have effectively engineered movement out of our lives. We thought less hard work would lead us to “the good life,” but we’ve been surprised to find it has led us instead to a life of chronic disease in epidemic proportions.

Here is a sampling of the surprising statistics on an EIM fact sheet that can be found at The World Health Organization’s most recent Global Health Risks data (2004) show that after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, physical inactivity constitutes the fourth leading cause of death globally. More recent evidence (2009) shows physical inactivity to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. A low level of physical activity exposes a patient to a greater risk of dying than does smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol. Active individuals in their 80s have a lower risk of death than inactive individuals in their 60s. A low level of fitness is a bigger risk factor for death than mild-moderate obesity.

In response to overwhelming evidence, EIM is striving to bring community resources to towns like ours. They are doing an incredible job in demonstrating their ability to positively affect health outcomes and reduce health care costs.

EIM offers convenient training to exercise professionals that enables them to work with low- moderate risk patients referred by local healthcare providers. In this way, physical activity can safely be part of every health care plan.

EIM also helps establish permanent community health education infrastructures. Some examples of programs they support can be found on They promote evidence-based, hands-on, skill-building programing with simple outcome measurements built right. The data collected is submitted to entities such as the Centers for Disease Control and assesses how physical activity and diet changes are positively impacting health. The data also provides healthcare providers in the community feedback that fosters trust and promotes referrals to the program.

EIM is taking the wind out of the sails of our current public health crisis. They have effectively shown that an appropriate physical activity level and diet can reduce death from and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent, lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent, reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure by approximately 40 percent, lower the risk of stroke by 27 percent, decrease depression as effectively as Prozac and lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58 percent.

Let’s give them a hand in getting the word out that an investment in a healthy lifestyle is an investment in lifelong health.

Debbie Coblentz is a registered dietitian living in Churchill County. Your comments in response to this article are welcome at