What is Exercise is Medicine?

The vision of Exercise is Medicine® (EIM), a global health initiative managed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), is to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health care with evidence-based physical activity resources for people everywhere and of all abilities.

EIM encourages physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans and to refer patients to evidence-based exercise programs and qualified exercise professionals. EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health and is integral in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions.

3-Step Model

Step 1: Physical Activity Assessment (PAVS)

Clinic staff administer the PAVS (2-question physical activity vital sign) at every patient visit. The PAVS is embedded into the electronic health record to ensure it is integrated into existing clinic workflow.

PAVS Questions:
1. On average, how many days per week do you do moderate to strenuous exercise for 
at least 10 minutes without stopping?  _______ days
2. On average, how many minutes per day do you exercise at this level? _______ minutes

Step 2: Physical Activity Prescription

Primary Care Providers write physical activity prescriptions based on the patient’s current health status and physical activity levels as indicated by the PAVS. Brief counseling is also offered to help patients overcome barriers and challenges to becoming more active. Walking prescriptions are encouraged as an easy and inexpensive way to reach activity goals. Based on patient’s needs, some receive muscle strengthening and stretching prescriptions.

Step 3: Physical Activity Referral

Clinic staff refer patients to healthcare or community-based resources such as parks where they can “fill their exercise prescription.” The healthcare team is trained in identifying existing free or low-cost facilities where patients can safely increase their physical activity levels.

Clinic Locations

Rowan County Health Department

Serves adult, youth, and maternal patients of all income levels in Rowan County, North Carolina. Forty percent of patients utilize Medicaid. Phase 1 of the EIM intervention is administered to all adult health patients at every visit. Phase 2 will 
expand to other clinical services.

Play Video

Listen to Community Care Clinic of Rowan staff share how they are paving the way for upstream medical care for their patients by putting EIM into action. Hear personal stories from patients!

In the News

Community Care Clinic of Rowan Accomplishments

Out of 819 patients: (September 2018 – 2019)

  • 100% completed the PAVS; of those 90% were not meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines and 40% were not doing any physical activity.
  •  97% (n=794) received written physical activity prescriptions and referral to free or low-cost opportunities to fill their prescription.
  • 33% (n=20) increased total minutes physical activity (as recorded in follow-up visit) after receiving a prescription.
  • 40% (n=26) lost an average of 7 pounds and lowered body mass index. Cumulative 200 pounds lost among all patients
  • 40% (n= 25) lowered cholesterol levels
  • 16% (n=10) lowered A1C levels
  • 36% (n=22) lowered blood pressure

Rowan County Health Department anticipated outcomes will be available Spring 2020.