Tracking exercise might help with weight loss and glucose control

New research from Kaiser Permanente suggests that keeping track of exercise habits with your medical provider can help with weight loss.

Moreover, it can help diabetics maintain better glucose control, the new study found.

The program, Kaiser Permanente Exercise as a Vital Sign, was implemented in Northern California between April of 2010 and October of 2011. And while the pilot study was small, the results found that patients involved lost an average of 0.2 pounds more than patients who received care in other medical centers that hadn't implemented the program.

Raising awareness

Patients in the program were asked about their exercise habits by medical assistants during routine office visits. Individuals who were identified as having high risks for health problems were referred to telephone health-coaching sessions or appointments with behavioral specialists who could help with lifestyle changes.

"Asking an individual about how much daily physical activity he or she has helps our providers learn about what matters to our patients and prompts patients to think about healthier habits," said Lisa Schilling, RN, MPH, vice president for the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute. "It also allows us to connect the individual to resources and habits that promote better health."

Treating exercise as a "vital sign," the researchers said, puts it in the same category as other critical health markers, which prompts important conversations between patient and doctor.

Exercise is the 'cheapest prescription'

While individual weight loss in the study was "modest," the researchers report that the overall projected weight loss for the program was estimated to exceed 46,000 pounds.

"Exercise is the cheapest prescription for health," said Richard W. Grant, M.D., MPH, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study's lead author. "Asking these questions about exercise is raising awareness with both the patient and the health care provider. It gets patients thinking about how much they are exercising and reminds physicians to have that conversation with their patients."

Results of the study are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Source: Kaiser Permanente

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