'Prescription' provides tailored exercise program at UNMC

Exercise is Medicine® referral means free tailored exercise program

Exercise is touted as one of the best forms of prevention and treatment of various diseases. Now health care providers can prescribe an exercise program.

The Engage Wellness program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Home Instead Center for Successful Aging is participating in a national initiative called Exercise is Medicine®. Patients referred to the program receive a free tailored exercise program based on fitness and balance assessments, health history and recommendations from the referring provider.

Those older than 50 or eligible for Medicare can participate.

Exercise is Medicine® is an initiative led by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association. It urges health providers to assess and review patients’ exercise habits during each visit, creates an exercise program for the patient or recommends a professional who can help.

“The initiative encourages health care providers to treat exercise like a vital sign,” said Jeannie Hannan, Ph.D., wellness manager for the Engage Wellness program. “Our program has adopted this initiative and collaborates with health providers whose patients would benefit from an exercise program.”

Programs are developed by wellness specialists educated in exercise science, who also specialize in programs for those with chronic health conditions.

The two-week referral includes providing feedback to the health care provider about the patient’s progress and patient access to fitness equipment, classes and social activities. If patients decide to continue the program after two weeks, they can join the Engage Wellness program for a three-month special of $33 a month.

“If there is one thing that improves our chance of successful aging, it is physical exercise,” said Jane Potter, M.D., Harris Professor of Geriatric Medicine and chief of the UNMC Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology. “Exercise improves function, health and independence.

“Exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage development of new brain cells. It also can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes and protect against those risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia”

Dr. Potter said exercise doesn’t have to be high intensity to have benefits. Thirty minutes a day of walking, bicycling, gardening, tai chi, yoga and other activities can get the body moving and the heart pumping, she said.

To see a video about the program, go to: http://youtu.be/Olg0YKdKkCw

For more information, call (402) 552-7210 or email engage@unmc.edu.

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Lisa Spellman
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4353