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Letter to the Editor: Soccer Docs' Solution to Poor Health and Obesity: Play!

by Anne Bell | Jun 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

Letter to the Editor: Soccer Docs' Solution to Poor Health and Obesity: Play!
Authored by Felipe Lobelo, M.D., Ph.D. and Gautam Nayak, M.D.
U.S. Medical Soccer Team 

The U.S. is not alone in facing an epidemic of poor health and obesity. These problems are worldwide. Fortunately, an important solution is just as universal and also quite enjoyable.
Physical activity – sports, exercise, active transit and active play – is as vital to health as good nutrition. As physicians, we’ve seen how much better our patients feel when they get the recommended amount of physical activity (150 minutes per week for adults; 300 for children). This is an easy way to improve and maintain health, with co-benefits such as cost savings, better social interactions and improved cognitive performance.

The U.S. Medical Soccer Team (www.usmedicalsoccerteam.org) is preparing to compete in the World Medical Football Championships June 29-July 7 in Budapest. We and our fellow physicians hope to do our country proud, but we also hope to model the joys of being active for health. We’ve maintained our love of soccer from childhood. As busy as we are, we make time for sport and physical activity in our daily lives.

Research consistently shows, not surprisingly, that the number-one predictor of whether a doctor gives preventive counseling is that doctor’s own health habits and practices. Active physicians are two to five times more likely to provide activity counseling to their patients compared with inactive physicians. This is the essence of the Exercise is Medicine philosophy: active doctors preaching what they practice and walking the talk.

We hope all Americans will follow the championships and wish us well. More important, we hope they’ll follow our example and make time to enjoy daily physical activity. Walking, running, kicking, or just playing – it’s all good fun, with abundant benefits.
 
Felipe Lobelo, M.D., Ph.D.
Gautam Nayak, M.D.
U.S. Medical Soccer Team

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