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Unraveling the What, Why, and How of Increasing Physical Activity in Patients

Grasso, Alessandra C., MSPH; McDermott, Ann Yelmokas, PhD, MS, LDN

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000259
Nutrition and Physical Activity

Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are modifiable risk factors to numerous chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, depression, heart failure, and lower back pain. Integrating physical activity (PA) and exercise strategies into patient consultations for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases is the epitome of the global health initiative, Exercise Is Medicine. Nutrition and health professionals can play an important role in this growing movement of increasing PA by documenting PA assessment, incorporating PA in patient counseling, prescribing tailored exercise prescriptions, and including resource referrals at each clinical visit. This article presents a brief background of PA, exercise, and sedentary behavior research and application strategies targeting health outcomes and illustrates why and how nutrition and health professionals play a role in Exercise Is Medicine to support increased PA in patient populations.

Alessandra C. Grasso, MSPH, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She is currently a doctor of philosophy student at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam under the supervision of Prof Dr Ingeborg Brouwer. Her research is focused on investigating the environmental impact of diets and food-related behavior suggested to prevent depression and to enhance healthy ageing. She received a master of science degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a concentration in International Health, Human Nutrition. In 2015, she was a US Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security recipient and explored biodiversity for food and nutrition in Kenya.

Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, MS, LDN, Associate Scientist, Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, and Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland. Her specialty is in the interplay between biochemical nutrition, exercise physiology, health behavior, and health outcomes. She received her master of science degree in Athletic Training from Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts and her doctor of philosophy degree in Nutrition Science (with a specialty in physiology) from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, Massachusetts, and she completed a fellowship in Obesity Science and Genetics from the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. For the past 20 years, she has applied this expertise in medical education to promote evidence-based lifestyle practices by healthcare providers, designed novel clinical and community-based intervention programs, and created train-the-trainer models to demedicalize and amplify sustainable lifestyle interventions.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Ann Yelmokas McDermott, 23 Bradford Street, Provincetown, MA 02657 (

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