A packed auditorium at the WCPT Congress 2015 debate on Saturday afternoon considered the question: is "Exercise is Medicine" a friend or foe of physical therapy?
The debate revolved around the Exercise is Medicine global health initiative from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). It says its aim is to encourage primary care physicians and other health providers to include physical activity in plans for patients.
Delegates were asked to consider whether Exercise is Medicine was supportive of physical therapy practice.
Paul Hodges from Australia said that Exercise is Medicine (EIM) was a friend of physical therapy. He pointed out that though everyone agrees that changing physical activity behaviours would be the most effective way of tackling lifestyle-related diseases, the problem was that changing behaviour was very difficult.
“We need to find another way. An aim of EIM is to increase the uptake of physical activity – to change the attitudes of physicians and the public. It’s a society-wide initiative to change attitudes because change is difficult.”
Phil Page from the United States said that Exercise is Medicine was a foe. He said that the initiative was detrimental to physical therapists because it excluded them from their global programme. And health systems were not set up to accommodate exercise prescription as EIM proposes – at least not effectively.
Other speakers included Ann Moore from the United Kingdom and Linda Steyn from South Africa.