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Exercise Rx: Helping Patients Stay Active for Life

Abstract

November 1, 2019

Cindy Lin, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Assistant Director of Clinical Innovation for The Sports Institute led the exercise vital sign initiative at UW Medicine. Through The Sports Institute, they’ve launched Exercise Rx, an online, map-based search tool for patients and providers, connecting patients with free and low-cost exercise resources. Exercise Rx was built with the belief that physical activity is vital for physical and mental well-being and designed to empower patients of all ages and abilities throughout the greater Seattle area to stay active. The program’s efforts are aligned with the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine initiative.

Motivation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a quarter of Americans do not meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines.

Physical activity promotes optimal health and is integral to preventing and treating many common, chronic medical conditions. However, exercise is under-discussed and under-prescribed in healthcare settings. Patients are often unaware of free or low-cost exercise resources they can access in their own homes and communities.

At the same time, physicians rank expense and convenience as the most problematic elements of health clubs and fitness resources. In a recent survey, 72% of physicians indicated cost as most concerning when recommending a specific health club to patients.

Where We Are

Exercise Rx currently provides resources for UW Medicine healthcare providers and users in the Seattle area. It displays options such as aquatic exercises, disabled accessible and senior or kid-friendly activities, walking groups, strength training and other exercise opportunities. Exercise Rx also provides online resources and suggestions for home-based exercises to best support diverse needs and ability levels.

Additionally, our team is developing an app with the Ubicomp Lab in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering that will be piloted to help promote sustainable behavior change in patients around their physical activity habits.