Doctors prescribing exercise for health

Brenda Gradwell's doctor prescribed p.r.e.p. as part of her Leukemia recovery.

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Being sedentary can lead to a lengthy list of health problems, so more and more local doctors are now writing a prescription for exercise.

Patients like Brenda Gradwell use it to make a lifestyle overhaul.

“I wanted to build my strength and stamina,” she says, taking a break from her workout.

Looking at her today, you would never know that she is not even two years out from her bone marrow transplant for Leukemia.  She credits good medical care and something called p.r.e.p.

“Physician Referred Exercise Program,” Dr. Gregory Degnan, ACAC Medical Director and Orthopedic Surgeon, explains what p.r.e.p. stands for.  “All of the patients who come in for prep have a signed physician referral.”

ACAC created p.r.e.p. about twelve years ago, and it has picked up as more doctors embrace movement as medicine.

“After patients have a heart attack or a stent placed or some sort of cardiac condition, we try to get them involved in some sort of structured program, whether it’s formal cardiac rehab or one of the ACAC p.r.e.p. programs,” says Dr. Denise Dietz, an HCA Virginia Cardiologist who has seen patients make great progress by implementing exercise into their treatment plans.

Adds Dr. Degnan, “It’s treatment without drugs, it’s treatment without invasive procedures, it’s treatment that nobody has an allergy to, it’s treatment for which there are no detrimental side effects.”

Studies show increasing activity under a doctor’s watch can control or reverse everything from Heart Disease to Diabetes, Depression and Asthma.

“Just keep on moving because once you sit still, moss is going to grow,” says Bill Gradwell, Brenda’s husband.  He now joins her at the gym for p.r.e.p.

The program tailors workouts to meet patients’ needs and gives regular updates to their doctors.

Bill says his doctor already sees the progress.  “He likes it because the pounds are shedding off.  He likes it a lot.”

ACAC says some companies pay for p.r.e.p., or it could be covered through insurance as preventative healthcare.  If not, p.r.e.p. costs $60 for sixty days.

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