Medical assessment for health advocacy and practical strategies for exercise initiation

Journal Article

The universal caution to consult your family doctor before beginning an exercise program creates an image of exercise as potentially harmful. Moreover, insistence on extensive screening prior to exercise is both unrealistic and often inappropriate for the older adult. Recasting the role of the physician as a physical activity advocate rather than as a gatekeeper is recommended for incorporation into guidelines for exercise screening. A geriatric assessment focusing on identification of specific parameters predictive of disablement risk can be incorporated into the exercise prescription as a guide for initiating exercise. The purpose of this article is to: (1) review the role of the primary care physician in screening and advocating exercise; (2) examine objectively the risk of exercise among older adults and place these risks in context with current screening guidelines with a particular emphasis on the exercise test; and (3) examine how key concepts derived from epidemiologic studies of disability can be distilled into practical guidelines for exercise therapy. We provide an overview of relevant literature related to screening and initiating exercise. Key challenges are highlighted and discussed. Suggestions for changes in policy are recommended. Given the apparent discordance between screening guidelines for the older adult and risk of adverse events, and between existing recommendations for physical activity and epidemiologic studies of disability, an evidence-based approach is recommended to review and revise screening and prescribing practices. © 2003 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Morey, MC; Jr, RJS

Published Date

  • 2003

Published In

  • American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 3 SUPPL. 2

Start / End Page

  • 204 - 208

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/S0749-3797(03)00180-6