Physical inactivity and counseling practices among medical doctors: a review

  • Wallace M. Karuguti
  • José M. Frantz
  • Julie Phillips


Introduction: Literature indicates that physical activity is a health practice that can prevent
chronic diseases of lifestyle. It is recommended that medical practitioners, among them physicians, should hold the responsibility of counseling patients on physical activity. This review  attempts to establish whether physical inactivity  among physicians is a risk factor to counseling practices on physical activity.

Methods: Databases searched included Science direct, Pubmed, Eric, Health sources consumer edition, Health sources: nursing/academic edition, Sports discuss and Medline through January 2000 to February 2010. All studies testing if physical inactivity is a risk factor to counseling practices among physicians were included in the review. The “critical thinking tool for quasi experimental studies and the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta Analysis of Statistics Assessment and Review Instruments were used to evaluate quasi experimental and cross sectional studies respectively.

Results: Two quasi experimental studies and four cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria and were evaluated. There was strong evidence for an association between physical inactivity and counseling practices, indicating that physicians who exercised regularly were more likely to counsel patients on physical activity and vice versa. Levels of physical activity were seen to decrease as years of training progressed among resident physicians in one study while in another the levels were consistent. Lack of knowledge about details of physical activity prescriptions was also blamed for inadequate counseling.

Discussion/ conclusion: There is significant indication that inadequate counseling concerning physical activity by physicians may be related to their personal physical activity patterns. Measures around enhancing this health practice should be enhanced by all stakeholders including physicians and patients. Further reasons for failure to counsel and hindrances to participation on physical activity among medical doctors and other health professionals should be explored.


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