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Exercise Is Medicine: Imprecision and Impracticality by Lon Kilgore - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit, Medical/Injuries, Rest Day/Theory

January 31, 2016

PDF Article

Exercise is not medicine, and suggestions to the contrary do nothing to help fitness trainers improve the health of their clients.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

This popular saying portrays certain activities as having the ability to improve health. Most people accord a notion of truth to the adage, but would anyone suggest a farmer or retailer could be held out as an exemplar of a health or medical profession? Probably not.

Yet this is exactly what the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is trying to do with Exercise Is Medicine (EIM)—a media campaign, a proposed system of physician-based physical-activity prescription and referral, and a revenue-generating set of credentials offered by the ACSM.

The fitness industry is not medicine. Any organization that argues fitness is medicine is overreaching its operational scope and pandering to its members and the populace, all in hopes of weaseling into a place alongside medicine, nursing, physical therapy and athletic training as a licensed profession.

The ACSM must be encouraged to cease its attempts to confuse and misclassify fitness delivery to healthy individuals as medicinal physical activity in order to advance its own agenda at the expense of its partners, its competitors and fitness trainers everywhere. Although fundamentally different, physical activity and exercise can indeed be medicine—but only if disease or injury is present. The ACSM should concern itself with physical activity and exercise as therapy for disease and as rehabilitation. It should leave fitness for the masses to others.

CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman has described exercise training as “non-medical health care that works.” In the context of the gym, this means trainers in the fitness industry aren’t diagnosing or prescribing anything. They are teaching and training fitness, and the byproduct of their services is better health and function in their customers. In contrast to the goals of the ACSM and EIM, these are outcomes CrossFit and the evolving fitness industry can deliver.

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3 Comments on “Exercise Is Medicine: Imprecision and Impracticality ”


wrote …

Why do I feel like I completely missed the point of this article?


Hilmar Dijkstra wrote …

I agree with you. We all know that "one apple a day, keeps the doctor away" is not completely true. It is not about the truth, but it is about the message.
Ofcourse we can think that this adagium is suspicious, made up by farmers in order to sell more apples. But then we leave the overall goal of why this adagium was invented.

I think that this is the point of the article. I do not think that it is really necessary to fight organisations who invented the adagium EIM. The message is that people need to exercise more. And that is the goal. Do not take it literally. I believe that those organisations truely want people to exercise because they care about their fitness.

Sometimes it seems that CrossFit is "fighting" organisations, while, in this case certainly, they all share the same goal. Crossfit is already part of the establishment, so there is no need (anymore) to fight. Now it is time for melting the ideas and principles together. In the name of fitness for everybody.


wrote …

Whoa! I think I just got it! Kilgore is saying that the ACSM wants to try to prescribe their own version of exercise and they want to charge people for that prescription. Well, unfortunately for them, that won't be easy. I don't know if they've heard this before but, PT is for free, or in other words, exercise is free of charge. As for an exercise prescription, well, that's also free, and here it is: Perform constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements. Record your data and constantly strive for improvement.

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