In the JournalsPerspective

‘Running medicine’ improves health

Anthony Fleg
Anthony Fleg

“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:

  • meditations/inspirations/games;
  • 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.”

Woman Running 
“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.
Source:Shutterstock

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.

Anthony Fleg
Anthony Fleg

“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:

  • meditations/inspirations/games;
  • 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.”

Woman Running 
“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.
Source:Shutterstock

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.

    Perspective
    Richard Wardrop

    Richard Wardrop

    I like this idea. Running medicine is feasible if physicians are dedicated to community service and personal wellness/fitness. This kind of activity can serve multiple purposes for physicians who want to be more engaged with their community, who want to get some meaningful time away from patient care for fitness, and it has the added positive effect of allowing physicians to serve as role models for patients who participate. Physicians have an important role in the well-being of patients and their communities.

    In general, physicians are just like anyone else. Programs that are well-organized and show clear benefit are more likely to engage physicians in their limited time dedicated to important priorities outside of typical patient care, like caring for themselves, community service and caring for their own families. I think that if this is well-organized and vetted, physicians (not all but many) would be supportive and engaged.

    Engagement creates relationships that can increase a sense of purpose for physicians. Being empowered to act on this sense of purpose will for many alleviate the inherent and well-described moral injury and loneliness that many physicians find in their lives. This type of program goes a long way to build personal and professional self-esteem for physicians. If people (including physicians) want more self-esteem and self-worth, they must engage in programs outside of their practices, such as these that serve their spiritual and physical health, the health of others and the health of the community.

    • Richard Wardrop, MD, PhD, FAAP, FACP
    • Professor of medicine
      Vice chair of education and faculty development
      University of Mississippi Medical Center

    Disclosures: Wardrop reports no relevant financial disclosures.