The Medical Fitness Model
Defining the Difference
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Dr. Cary Wing
The country is witnessing a significant transformation in how physicians, healthcare providers and the public view strategies to reduce the risk of disease and to maintain a lifetime of healthy living. Initiatives such as Exercise is Medicine are evidence that the entire healthcare industry is embracing the concept of prevention and disease management through health education and regular participation in physical activity.
In the current environment, a medically-integrated health and fitness center can provide the appropriate oversight and continuum of care individuals are seeking to achieve their goals. Understanding the model and implementing strategies for success will assist a health club in building trust in the community and will provide opportunities for business growth and development.
Uniting Fitness with Healthcare
Since the first hospital-owned fitness center, Integris Health PACER Fitness Center, opened its doors in 1979 in Oklahoma, medically-integrated facilities have been merging fitness and healthcare. The medical fitness industry has grown from approximately 79 centers in 1985 to over 1,100 centers in 2010. The industry has been, and still is, predominantly composed of fitness facilities owned by hospitals. However, many other segments of the health and fitness industry are now developing medically-integrated centers. Facilities such as the Dedham Health & Athletic Complex and ACAC Wellness & Fitness Centers are examples of the expansion. These centers bring together clinical and fitness/wellness services in an environment that is typically shared by both general members and by patients under one roof. There is a seamless integration of programs and services that include physical activity and exercise, as well as clinical integration and/or rehabilitation.
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