New Brunswick doctors embrace exercise prescriptions

Doctors around the province are prescribing physical activity to their patients, an initiative which has seen thousands of prescriptions handed out across the province so far.

“Saint John doctors have already been involved in encouraging schoolchildren to get active, so the prescriptions fit very well with what we’ve been working on,” said Dr. Laurie Potter, a psychiatrist in Saint John who uses the prescription pads in her practice. “Recent Statistics Canada information found Saint John to be the most obese city in the country, so it’s obviously a topic of concern to doctors here.”

Provincial statistics show that Saint John isn’t alone – many New Brunswick towns and cities have high rates of obesity. Doctors in dozens of New Brunswick communities are participating in an effort to combat this provincial problem.

The New Brunswick Medical Society introduced free exercise prescription pads last month, available to all doctors in the province. Since then, over 100 doctors have included them in their practice alongside their regular prescription pads. Designed to emphasize the value of exercise to overall health, the pads look nearly identical to regular prescriptions. Evidence has found them to improve patient adherence to exercise advice from doctors.

“Exercise truly is a ‘wonder drug’ in terms of all the benefits it can bring to patients,” said Dr. Lynn Hansen, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society, who herself plays touch rugby and hockey. “For myself, I’ve found it helps me to unwind if I’m feeling stressed.”

The prescription pads are part of a larger goal to improve the health of New Brunswickers. The province’s doctors have also renewed a partnership with Run New Brunswick called “Small Strides, Healthy Lives” which encourages children and youth to get active by awarding medals to those who take part in races. They also worked with NB Dietitians in Action for the “Make Menus Matter” initiative in November last year, which examined healthy food availability in school cafeterias.

“With the recent report from Statistics Canada showing New Brunswick as the second most obese province in the country, the province’s doctors know it’s more important than ever to work with our patients to improve their health,” said Dr. Hansen. “We’d like to empower our patients to take control of their health.”

Founded in 1867, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) is the professional association representing all physicians in New Brunswick. It is a provincial division of the Canadian Medical Association. Its twin goals are to represent and serve physicians, and advocate for the health of New Brunswickers. Over a hundred New Brunswick doctors sit on its Board and Committees, representing the 1600 doctors in the province.

MEDIA CONTACT: Aleisha Bosch, New Brunswick Medical Society, (506) 458-8860 Ext. 633