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Physical activity prescription: a critical opportunity to address a modifiable risk factor for the prevention and management of chronic disease: a position statement by the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine
  1. Jane S Thornton1,
  2. Pierre Frémont2,
  3. Karim Khan3,
  4. Paul Poirier4,
  5. Jonathon Fowles5,
  6. Greg D Wells6,
  7. Renata J Frankovich7
  1. 1Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Dip Sport Med (CASEM), Laval University, Ville de Québec, Quebec, Canada
  3. 3University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec and Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Québec, Canada
  5. 5Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
  6. 6Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  7. 7Dip. Sport Med (CASEM), University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jane S Thornton, Western University, 10 Harrison Crescent, London, Ontario, Canada N5Y 2V4; jane.s.thornton{at}


Non-communicable disease is a leading threat to global health. Physical inactivity is a large contributor to this problem; in fact, the WHO ranks it as the fourth leading risk factor for overall morbidity and mortality worldwide. In Canada, at least 4 of 5 adults do not meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 150 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Physicians play an important role in the dissemination of physical activity (PA) recommendations to a broad segment of the population, as over 80% of Canadians visit their doctors every year and prefer to get health information directly from them. Unfortunately, most physicians do not regularly assess or prescribe PA as part of routine care, and even when discussed, few provide specific recommendations. PA prescription has the potential to be an important therapeutic agent for all ages in primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of chronic disease. Sport and exercise medicine (SEM) physicians are particularly well suited for this role and should collaborate with their primary care colleagues for optimal patient care. The purpose of this Canadian Academy and Sport and Exercise Medicine position statement is to provide an evidence-based, best practices summary to better equip SEM and primary care physicians to prescribe PA and exercise, specifically for the prevention and management of non-communicable disease. This will be achieved by addressing common questions and perceived barriers in the field.

Author note This position statement has been endorsed by the following nine sport medicine societies: Australasian College of Sports and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP), American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine (BASEM), European College of Sport & Exercise Physicians (ECOSEP), Norsk forening for idrettsmedisin og fysisk aktivite (NIMF), South African Sports Medicine Association (SASMA), Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Sportmedizin/Swiss Society of Sports Medicine (SGSM/SSSM), Sport Doctors Australia (SDrA), Swedish Society of Exercise and Sports Medicine (SFAIM), and CASEM.

  • Physical activity
  • Non-communicable disease
  • Sports and exercise medicine
  • Exercise
  • Primary care

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