well-being; professional burnout; psychological burnout; exercise; quality of life; chronic disease; vital signs; sedentary behavior; physical fitness; body mass index


Medical Education | Sports Sciences | Translational Medical Research


In this review, we argue that exercise (physical activity) be monitored as a vital sign since no other basic sign or symptom provides as much information about a patient's health status. The influence of regular exercise on patient health is indisputable, with strong evidence to show the power of exercise to mitigate chronic disease and improve overall health. Several simple tools, such as Physical Activity as a Vital Sign and Exercise as a Vital Sign are available to assess patient physical activity. When properly applied, there is evidence to support the efficacy of these tools, but there are barriers that prevent broad inclusion in primary care, among which are time and provider knowledge. In our review, we also discussed the value of physician-led lifestyle discussions with patients and found they view these discussions favorably. There is also evidence that physicians who exercise are more likely to have these lifestyle discussions with their patients, but the proportion of physicians who exercise regularly is fairly low. We believe physicians’ awareness of their patients’ sedentary lifestyles should prompt a prescription to increase physical activity, but additional in-clinic support and community resources need to be in place for patients to get a regular dose.


Changed Dr. Thomas' affiliation.