Are Medical Schools Teaching Prescription over Exercise?

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that medical schools may not be doing enough to equip doctors for  the ‘War on Obesity’, which is a major health concern in the United States. In a time where health care reform is heavily discussed and debated, it is paramount that we ask questions about the quality and availability of adequate health care.

So the question must be asked – Who should we turn to for help in fight obesity? – doctors? Well, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine’s survey of 31 medical schools in the UK, only 13% of the schools included curriculum on exercise and physical activity at or above the national guidelines during each year of the program, whereas 16% included none. Future doctors spent an average of only four hours learning about the benefits of exercise compared to 109 hours on pharmacology.

This article is no way an attempt to belittle doctors or question the amount of hard work, training and education in their respective area of expertise. Doctors are valued and imperative to our health, but there is a real issue at hand. The gap in exercise resources and information for preventative medicine is alarming. Doctors do have exercise physiologists who can use exercise as a form of medicine, but most are called upon in helping patients rehabilitate from surgeries and cardiovascular issues. Why aren’t exercise specialists available as a form of preventative medicine? 

Although the aforementioned study was conducted in the UK, it may be a telling story for medical schools around the world; doctors are graduating with little to no training on the benefits and ways to prescribe the best preventative medicine known to man – EXERCISE. The lack of knowledge could very well be creating a “prescription pill” society. When the first prescription does not fix the issue, the original issue worsens and or a new issue arises due to obesity being the gateway to chronic disease, more and more medications could be prescribed.

Here’s my question…How will we ever win the battle of obesity and chronic disease if our healthcare providers have little to no knowledge on exercise, and have been trained to tell us to head to the local pharmacy instead of heading to a local gym to exercise?

We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on this. Feel free to chime in!


Weiler R., Chew S., Coombs N., Hamer M., & Stamatakis E. (2012).
Physical activity education in the undergraduate curricula of all UK medical schools. Are tomorrow’s doctors equipped to follow clinical guidelines? British Journal of Sports Medicine 2012;46:1024-1026 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091380

Rattue, P. (2012). Doctors Not Being Taught About Benefits Of Exercise. Medical News Today. Retrieved from

Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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