Many Medical Schools Lack Coursework on Exercise and Physical Activity

April 01, 2015|11:15 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

A review of the curriculums of more than 100 medical schools in the United States has found that only half offer courses on exercise and physical activity, and in instances where formal courses were offered, they were rarely required.

Researchers at Oregon State University reviewed the online course listings of 118 accredited schools of medicine in the U.S., both private and public, and noted that while training related to physical activity may be taking place beyond the listed coursework, they were surprised at the lack of formal offerings on the topic.

Of the medical schools they reviewed in 2013, 51 percent offered no physical activity-related coursework, 21 percent offered only one course, and 82 percent did not require students to take any courses related to physical activity.

“Physicians play a significant and influential role in encouraging and assisting patients who need or are trying to get more exercise, but past research has shown that many physicians lack the education, skills or confidence to educate and counsel patients about their physical activity,” said Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise and sport science at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences in an article this week in Science Daily. “Understanding why and how to exercise, and knowing how to help people who are struggling to make it a habit, is really important.”

Learn more in this article by Science Daily. See also ASTHO’s work promoting the use and implementation of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, including a webinar series and state case studies.