The Prescription to Get Active program is designed to make activity an extension of the healthcare system for all Canadians. It helps connect Canadians to healthcare professionals, activity resources and fitness/recreation options through a prescription written by healthcare professionals that can be redeemed for access and support to activity options.
After success in Alberta, the program has been expanded to Ontario and we would like to scale it across all of Canada in the coming years.
•Inactivity in adults (defined as not meeting 150 minutes a week of physical activity) and obesity significantly increase the risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, some forms of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, depression and anxiety.
•The risk of sedentary-related premature death is much higher for people of lower fitness across all BMI categories and therefore, the low fitness associated with physical inactivity is one of the greatest population-attributable risks in society, more so than smoking, obesity, diabetes or hypertension individually (Blair et al, 2009).
The Issue in Canada
•The annual economic burden of the risk factors excess weight and physical inactivity in Canada are estimated at $30 billion in 2012.
• Of the $30 billion, $19.0 ($13.8 to $24.0) billion to excess weight and $10.0 ($7.8 to $12.0) billion to physical inactivity.
•A 1 % relative annual reduction in each physical inactivity and obesity risk factor would result in an $2.1 billion annual reduction in economic burden by 2031 (Kreuger et al, 2014).
Physical Activity and Exercise has proven effective as an intervention and method of treatment:
• Reduce incidence of hypertension by 33-60% • Reduce incidence of diabetes by 25-58% • Reduce incidence of cardio vascular disease by 33-50% • Reduce risk of stroke by 31-45% • Reduce risk of colon cancer by 30-60% • Reduce mortality and risk of recurrent breast cancer by 25-50% • Reduce risk of developing Alzheimers by 40% • Decrease depression as effectively as medications or cognitive behavioral therapy • Resistance training reduces the incidents of falls in seniors by 25-40% (each fall is estimated to cost $25,000 - $35,000) • Reduce risk of premature death by 31-65%
Fitness facilities from both public and private sectors have joined together with certification organizations and the National Registry of Exercise Professionals along with the Medical Community to provide Canadian’s access to qualified and trusted exercise professionals.
How Does It Work?
Step 1: Doctors and their healthcare teams identify patients who are: • Below the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. • Able to participate in unsupervised physical activity without medical clearance. • Those who require supervision and medical clearance receive a prescription to a specific program. • Exercise is Medicine programming caters to “stable medical” and “complex” Step 2: Prescribers then write a specially designed prescription to their patients. Step 3: Patients record their prescription on this website. Step 4: Patients start moving at home and in their communities. • Physical activity resources are provided through the website to help get patients started. • Patients can also fill their prescriptions at participating recreation facilities and receive limited free trial access. Clubs will track participation and provide quarterly reporting.
Progress to Date
The program was launched in Alberta in 2013, and is now prescribed by 92% of doctors in the province. In 2017, 13,278 prescriptions were written, and 3,457 were redeemed through the website or at Rec centres (26%), with 43% of facility visitors purchasing additional passes after the free trial ended.
At the end of 2018, the program was launched in Ontario and in less than a year is already active in 12 communities, with 85+ prescribers and 53 activity locations.
The Future of the Program
The goal for the program is to have prescriptions written in every province and territory, every major city and every rural area in Canada.
This means not only having doctors across the country writing prescriptions, but also recreation and fitness providers, activities, and online support options
What We Need
In order to make the program successful and scale it to more Canadians we need funds and awareness:
Funding • To hire program managers in each province to coordinate communities and help train healthcare and activity providers as they come on board • Transportation and the development of training materials for helping providers get on board and train staff • To build a new website, database and mobile apps to make the program run more smoothly, be easy for patients to find providers, and be more accessible to Canadians from everywhere • To develop more automated systems for reporting and to collect data on the program to prove it's efficacy for more healthcare funding and eventually, to see activity support covered under the healthcare system
Awareness • More Canadians to know about and support the program • More providers to want to be involved to write prescriptions (healthcare) and provide activity support (fitness and recreation) • Community leaders to advocate for and help bring the program to their area and sponsors to help the program grow
Please help support this program by donating, sharing and helping us to help more Canadians get active and improve our healthcare system through prevention.
Want to get involved or help the program in your area? Email us for more information: