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American Heart Association Wants Doctors to Assess Physical Activity

In a recent statement, the American Heart Association has recommended that physicians become more involved in discussing patients’ physical activity levels.

Published in the association’s journal Circulation (2013; doi: 10.1161/01. cir.0000435708.67487.da), the statement expresses concern regarding the general population’s lack of physical activity.

“Despite the well-established individual benefit of leading a physically active
lifestyle and the broader public health impact of reducing chronic disease risk and premature mortality, too many U.S. adults are insufficiently physically active,” the authors stated. “With the documented health benefits of a physically active lifestyle as its guiding principle, this scientific statement recommends that physical activity be assessed regularly, as are the other major risk factors.”

To assist physicians in implementing activity assessments into practice, the organization has developed a “decision matrix.” The matrix offers insights into optimal low-cost or no-cost evaluation measures.

The physicians will use this information to identify patients who are not achieving sufficient levels of physical activity to maintain good health (i.e., are at risk for coronary and metabolic diseases). For those identified as ‘at risk,’ [physicians] will provide recommendations to increase their physical activity level,” added the authors.

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