‘Running medicine’ improves health
“Running medicine” events that combined several types of exercise and community-building events improved participants’ physical and mental health and social support, according to a brief report published in Annals of Family Medicine.
“Our society is increasingly built to discourage us from moving, and this creates unhealthy people and communities,” Anthony Fleg, MD, MPH, associate professor with the department of family and community medicine at the University of New Mexico, told Healio Primary Care. “The USA spends far less on creating healthy people and communities than other countries. No surprise that we then spend far more on treating disease than every country in the world.”
He said his running medicine events in New Mexico are coordinated by health professionals, coaches and students and supported by more than 160 community partners such as health clinics, schools and nonprofit organizations. These events occur three to four times weekly for a period of 8 to 10 weeks and include:
- dynamic stretching exercises;
- walks/runs of 30 to 40 minutes of varying skill and competitiveness levels;
- static stretching and core strengthening;
- healthy foods and beverages; and
- closing inspiration and events that build a sense of community.
Fleg stressed that running medicine is about life promotion, not disease prevention.
“We want to show people what true health and wellness looks like for themselves,” he said. “Remove them from the stress of their lives, the agents of disease and show them for a few hours a week what mind, body and spirit wellness looks like.”
He added that more than 90% of running medicine participants said the program improved their physical and mental health and social support.
Although his running medicine events typically involve the Native American population in both rural and urban New Mexico, Fleg said that it would be “simple” to coordinate similar events nationwide. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.