People cycling along a bike lane in a city

Is Prevention Your Doctor’s Job?

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) just published a new Toolkit for Doctors on active transportation, transit and communities that support them.

The toolkit prescribes active travel for healthy people and a healthy planet.

I think this is awesome because doctors are so influential in so many people’s lifestyle decisions. Many people will not make positive lifestyle changes unless the doctor says: “you have to make these changes or you will die in six months” (the standard next expiry date).

I’m all for prevention and natural (read: non-pharmaceutical) ways of being healthy and healing. Physical activity is one of the most basic and least expensive ways to stay healthy or to improve our health. We all know this, doctors know this, it’s been proven in all manners. Physical activity improves both physical and mental health.

The new kit argues that because time is the main obstacle to regular physical activity for many people, incorporating it into the daily necessities such as getting from point A to B is to he encouraged. ‘Active Travel’ or ‘Active Transportation’ – meaning ‘involving physical activity’.

Prescribing Active Travel for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet: A Toolkit for Health Professionals is designed to help health professionals become advocates of active transportation and transit with their patients and in their communities. The toolkit is contains five stand-alone modules so people can focus on the ones of most interest to them. The comprehensive package contains:

  • Module 1 describes the health, environmental and social benefits of active travel.
  • Module 2 provides strategies to motivate patients to use active travel.
  • Module 3 explains the links between active transportation and community design.
  • Module 4, designed for health professionals in southern Ontario, focuses on Ontario’s Growth Plan and how it impacts active travel.
  • Module 5 provides strategies for promoting change in one’s community.

The toolkit also includes two factsheets and brochures that health professionals can give to their patients, two backgrounders that can be used in meetings with the public or decision-makers, and a series of memes that can be used on Twitter or Facebook to make people think about the many benefits of walking, cycling, and transit for society as a whole.

Woman standing by a bikeI cycle all the time, even in winter – providing there’s no ice or snow on the ground (that’s when it gets too dangerous). I don’t call myself a cyclist; I don’t think I am. I’m just a person biking to work. Happily. Inexpensively. Actively.

And to get back to the question in the title of this blog post… perhaps it is your doctor’s job to help prevent illness but it certainly is YOUR job. It is your body and mind and you are the only person who can make changes happen both physically and mentally.

What do you think? Do you rely on your doctor’s influence or do you take the initiative to keep or get healthy?



2 thoughts on “Is Prevention Your Doctor’s Job?

  1. I like to think I take my own initiative to keep active and healthy. Sometimes, I admit, I do get lazy. I’m always impressed at my colleagues who, like you, bike to work in all seasons and some even run. They say that otherwise they wouldn’t have time to exercise. I take transit, but I try to walk after work and catch the train along the way. This is an excellent post and timely blog topic, by the way.

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