Betsy Meyer

It’s true. Doctors in the UK, USA, Canada, Sweden and other countries have begun “prescribing” walking as a cure and a preventative for many diseases. This is part of a worldwide movement called Exercise is Medicine. But it’s not new.

A bit of medical history here, Hippocrates (c. 460 to 370 BC) was a Greek physician often referred to as the “Father of Western Medicine,” and is credited with creating the Hippocratic Oath and also with saying “Walking is the best medicine.” He also said “if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” This philosophy continued well into the 1800s. One physician, J. William White, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in 1887: ‘‘Let it be understood that the main object and idea of exercise is the acquirement or preservation of health; … that it can be prescribed on as rational a basis … as any of the drugs of the pharmacopeia.” In 1769, in Scottish physician William Buchan’s highly popular Domestic Medicine, he suggested that ‘‘of all the causes which conspire to render the life of man short and miserable, none have greater influence than the want of proper Exercise.”

Betsy Meyer is a member of the Community Wellness Connection committee and also Healthy Adams County Physical Fitness Task Force.

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