NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago's northern suburbs plans to start an exercise vital sign program this month, eventually involving about 200 primary care doctors.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski, a NorthShore family and sports medicine specialist, already asks patients about exercise. She said some of her diabetic patients have been able to cut back on their medicines after getting active.
Dr. William Dietz, an obesity expert who retired last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said measuring a patient's exercise regardless of method is essential, but that "naming it as a vital sign kind of elevates it."
Figuring out how to get people to be more active is the important next step, he said, and could have a big effect in reducing medical costs.
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner
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