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Doctors planning to increase prescriptions of 'ancient wonder drug' to New Brunswickers

In advance of the Provincial Wellness Conference this week in Moncton, the President of the New Brunswick Medical Society announced today that dozens of doctors around the province are planning to increase their prescribing of a drug that reduces anxiety and stress, improves mood and healthy sleep habits, and lowers risks associated with chronic diseases like diabetes.

“Doctors have been ‘prescribing’ physical activity for thousands of years,” said Dr Lynn Hansen, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “We’re going to increasingly prescribe it in our province to keep our patients healthy.”

The New Brunswick Medical Society is offering free prescription pads to physicians, which can be used as tools to help patients focus on increasing physical activity in their lives. The prescription pads look nearly identical to actual prescriptions, and evidence supports their use to improve patient adherence to advice from their doctors on getting enough physical activity.

"It's a step in the right direction," said Marchell Coulombe, Manager of the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Coalition of New Brunswick. "It's great to see doctors taking a leadership role in promoting healthy behaviours to their patients, especially when we know these behaviours can help to manage and prevent debilitating chronic disease."

The Medical Society worked with medical experts and advisors from the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Kinesiology to design the prescription pads, an idea used in other provinces. Many doctors have already signed up to receive them in advance of today’s launch.

“Getting healthy starts a long time before someone walks into a doctor’s office,” said Dr Hansen. “Doctors provide their best advice – some people act on our recommendations, and some don’t. But with New Brunswickers trailing the nation for getting the recommended levels of physical activity, doctors feel that every small step helps.”

The doctors are announcing this initiative on the heels of other health promotion activities. Their partnership with Run New Brunswick called “Small Strides, Healthy Lives” saw thousands of children receive medals for being physically active last year, and the Make Menus Matter initiative with the NB Dietitians in Action focused on healthy foods in school cafeterias.

“Our health plan, Care First, outlined how many groups working together can build a province full of healthier, happier New Brunswickers,” said Dr Hansen. “Doctors are working in our schools, in our communities, and in our offices to ensure we are doing our part. There’s so much more to do, but we’re focused on turning our sick care system into a health care system.”

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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.

NBMS Contact: Andrew MacLean, New Brunswick Medical Society: amaclean@nbms.nb.ca