Sport Over Pills: Doctors Could Prescribe It as Treatment

In a progressive move towards holistic healthcare, physical activities could soon become a regular part of medical treatment, especially for patients struggling with obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Sports and physical education experts propose this innovative approach, which the Ministry of Health supports. The strategy favors those who care for themselves, even when seeking rehabilitation or physiotherapy services.

To actualize this, a doctor would prescribe regular physical activity to a patient, for instance, exercise or running. “Imagine if you have obesity or diabetes, and you must lose weight. A sports doctor or rehabilitation doctor could suggest that it would be appropriate for you to spend 10 or 15 hours in a fitness center. They would specify the type of exercise needed, focusing on certain areas,” explains Minister Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09). However, fitness trainers would have to meet strict conditions.

“We are looking for a way to integrate this into the system so that it can be indicated by a professional and prescribed by a general practitioner,” the minister added. This could be included in an amendment to the public health insurance law, which he plans to submit next year. “I can imagine it being offered, for example, to children who are overweight,” Válek added.

According to Ondřej Šebka, the head of the National Sports Agency, the inclusion of sports activities in treatment is widely discussed. However, a change in law is not yet prepared. As the lifespan increases, women live about 20 years of their lives with illness, and men about 15 years. “We can partly blame ourselves. We are leaders in smoking and drinking alcohol, and we are at the tail end in physical activities,” he said.

On a broader scale, the proposed amendment seeks to introduce a bonus system for those who take care of themselves and attend preventative check-ups. This could result in insurance companies arranging rehabilitation appointments, which are currently hard to come by. Thanks to the bonus, individuals would be assured that they can promptly see a professional. The hope is that this comprehensive approach to health will encourage more excellent physical activity, leading to a healthier populace.