At the most recent American Academy of Orofacial Pain ( Scientific Meeting May/2019 in San Diego, we all had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Maria Bement PT, Ph.D. associate professor at Marquette University speak. Dr. Bement’s topic of discussion was the Mechanisms of Exercise-Induced Hypoalgesia. For the general public, basically how exercise can help reduce pain. I know you might be thinking, “well what does this have to do with TMD, Temporomandibular Disorders,” but so many of our patients with TMD have other Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions, which I have blogged about in the past. This is also the perfect opportunity to remind all of you of an amazing online course through Coursera that Dr. James Fricton and his team put together entitled: Preventing Chronic Pain, A Human Systems Approach. I tell everyone who attends my TMD course to take the time to go thru this excellent online program, here is the link

So let’s proceed, here is some general info that Dr. Bement so kindly shared with us, regarding Exercise is Medicine!

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) a global health initiative founded in 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) with the American Medical Association (AMA) as a result of the overwhelming evidence that physical activity plays a powerful therapeutic role in the prevention and management of many chronic health conditions.

Despite the health benefits of regular physical activity and the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle: 

  • Globally, 23 percent of adults 18+ and 80 percent of adolescents are insufficiently active.
  • According to the US 2016 National Health Interview Survey, 48 percent of adults are NOT meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic activity, and 78 percent of adults are NOT meeting the guidelines for both aerobic and strength training.
  • U.S. adolescents and adults spend almost eight hours a day in sedentary behaviors. 
  • Approximately 36 percent of adults engage in NO leisure-time physical activity at all.
  • Physical inactivity causes 6 percent of the burden of disease from coronary heart disease, 7 percent of type 2 diabetes, 10 percent of breast cancer, and 10 percent of colon cancer. Inactivity causes 9 percent of premature mortality or more than 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008.
  • Globally, physical inactivity costs health care systems 54 billion dollars, productivity losses of 14 billion, and 13.4 million disability-adjusted life years.
  • 40 percent of U.S. primary care doctors and 36 percent of U.S. medical students do not meet the physical activity guidelines. Inactive physicians are less likely to provide exercise counseling to patients and are less credible role models for the adoption of healthy behaviors. (To me this is unfortunate and yet important information, lead my example!)

Additional Findings:

  • Physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause of death globally
    • 3.3 million attributable deaths/year
  • Active 80-year-olds have a lower risk of death than inactive 60-year-olds
  • ACSM recommendations: 150 min/week of moderate cardiorespiratory exercise + 2 strength sessions
    • >50% of adults do not meet the physical activity guidelines
  • Make physical activity assessment and prescription a medical standard of care
    • On average, how many days/week do you engage in moderate or greater physical activity (like a brisk walk)?
    • On average, how many minutes per session?

Here is a great link to discover the Power and Health Benefits of Physical Activity:

Let’s all do our part as Health Professionals to get ourselves moving so we can be good role models to our patients, as we help them get moving!

Here is the link for Exercise is Medicine and thank you, Dr. Bement, for your wonderful and informative presentation.

Michael Karegeannes
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