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Health Agencies Update
September 19, 2001

Physicians Influence Fitness

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JAMA. 2001;286(11):1306. doi:10.1001/jama.286.11.1306-JHA10009-3-1

As few as 3 hours of counseling by health care workers over 2 years can boost sedentary adults' physical fitness, according to a study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). At the beginning of the trial, only 1% of volunteers met federal recommendations for physical activity. Two years later, about 20% did. Director Claude Lenfant said the results mean that time-crunched physicians and their staff can still have an important effect on patients' health.

The study of 874 adults compared three types of education and counseling, ranging from 4-minute "advice sessions" to regular telephone counseling and weekly support classes. For women, the more intense intervention led to more activity. However, for men the short sessions were just as effective as the long.