On the heels of President Barack Obama's health care reform speech Sept. 9, the president of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) - the largest exercise science organization in the world - is clarifying the meaning of preventive care.

James Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM President, stressed in this letter to President Obama that prevention should go far beyond clinical tests and services. Ideally, prevention should also emphasize healthy lifestyles, including adequate amounts of physical activity - a practice that's not only health-conscious, but inexpensive.

"Five of the costliest illnesses and conditions - cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung disease, and strokes - can be prevented through a combination of healthy lifestyles and essential screenings," Pivarnik said in his letter to Obama.

Pivarnik also cited the Exercise is Medicine™ program, an initiative launched by ACSM and the American Medical Association in late 2007. The program is founded on the beliefs that physical activity should be addressed at every doctor's office visit and that exercise is a crucial part of health care and prevention.

Since the health care reform debate began, ACSM has been a national leader in promoting the benefits of a healthy, physically active lifestyle. In March, ACSM led a 34-organization-strong call to action to President Obama, urging him to give physical activity a heightened focus on the nation's health care agenda.

Physical activity has been shown in studies to prevent and cure numerous chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood, heart disease, and more. Consistent with the federal physical activity guidelines, ACSM recommends at least 150 minutes/week of physical activity for healthy adults, easily achieved in 30 minutes/day, five days/week.

American College of Sports Medicine

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