Exercise is Medicine

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Program: Exercise is Medicine

Based in: Indianapolis, Indiana

Participating Agency(s): American College of Sport Medicine

Unique Feature(s): Comprehensive medical diagnosis and treatment methodology; referral process to trained medical exercise professionals

Website: www.exerciseismedicine.org/

Contact: (317) 637-9200 - United States EIM Representative


Exercise is Medicine™ (EIM) is a nonprofit program founded by the American College of Sports Medicine to promote physical activity as an essential component of health care. EIM has an expansive network of over 400 organizations of doctors, nurses, medical professional associations, nonprofits, public and private companies, and academic institutions. EIM developed a standard process for healthcare practitioners to diagnose and either directly prescribe or refer a patient to an expert who can work on an exercise program for the individual. The model considers two categories of information about a patient:

  1. Health (and level of physical activity) and
  2. “Stage of Change,” a model that describes a patient’s willingness to pursue exercise as part of treatment

EIM advocates treating exercise as a “vital sign” and supports checking the four indicators of healthy exercise on a routine basis: types of activities, level of exertion, duration, and frequency. Practitioners benchmark against recommended guidelines from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. In addition to tracking exercise on an individual patient basis, EIM advocates that exercise be adopted into the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). These data are also a precursor for patient care reimbursements to doctors.

Tools Created:

  • Prescription Pad and Referral Form: This form can be used for three purposes: to prescribe a specific exercise regimen; to recommend an exercise plan for a health and fitness professional to supervise a patient; or to refer the patient to a professional who can tailor an exercise plan.
  • Action Guide Toolkits: EIM has developed at least five Action Guide toolkits to train healthcare practitioners on effective methods for counseling patients and prescribing exercise. Each Action Guide is written for a specific audience, including healthcare providers, nurses, physicians, Fitness professionals, colleges/universities, and the general public.
  • Your Prescription for Health Series: This is a set of more than 40 handouts and articles recommending specific types of exercise for patients with different types of illnesses, injuries, or conditions, taking into account their age, pregnancy status, and habits (e.g., travel a lot). These resources can provide training to healthcare providers and may also be used as handouts for patients.
  • Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire: The PAR-Q (modified version in Appendix E) contains yes/no questions that help assess a patient’s readiness for physical activity. It was developed with assistance from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.
  • Exercise Readiness and Prescription Form: A summary of findings from the exercise diagnosis, this form records useful information for the patient’s fi le. It provides space for a patient’s current exercise indicators, stage of change, and the practitioner’s recommendations.
  • ACSM ProFinder: Useful for practitioners who want to refer a patient to an exercise professional, the ProFinder is a searchable online database of credentialed clinical and nonclinical exercise professionals.