About Exercise is Medicine

“Exercise is Medicine” (EIM) is a global initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine. It has regional chapters in North America, South America, Europe, the Far East and Australia. South Africa has been invited to become the footprint for the African regional chapter for Exercise is Medicine.

It has been established that regular exercise improves health and prevents many non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, depression and even Alzheimer’s disease.

It is also known that exercise can be used very effectively in the treatment of disease. Lack of regular exercise has now been recognised as the single most important contributing factor to mortality – more so than obesity, smoking, diabetes and many other factors. Lack of exercise also contributes greatly to loss of quality of life and loss of independence in old age. Exercise is the most natural remedy in the world and is free. A program to promote exercise as a modality for prevention and treatment of disease, as well as for improvement of quality of life, is certainly worthwhile.

South Africa and Africa has a double burden of disease, with HIV and other communicable diseases on the one hand, and chronic diseases, including the chronic diseases of lifestyle on the other.

Healthcare systems in South Africa are not keeping up with this burden. Between thirty and forty per cent of deaths in South Africa are due to non-communicable disease. Regular exercise can prevent a large portion of these. Research has shown that most South Africans do not exercise sufficiently to enjoy the health benefits of exercise. A programme such as this is therefore certainly relevant in South Africa.

Any organisation, health care professional or fitness professional is welcome to join our Exercise is Medicine SA Network. There is strength in numbers, and interest and involvement over a broad spectrum will make it easier to spread the word and really make a difference to wellness and health-care in South Africa.

Our Vision

To make exercise a standard preventative measure for many chronic diseases among the population of South Africa.


To establish and maintain basic governance structures including:

  • Continuous needs assessments for EIM South Africa
  • Establish an internal environment based on appropriate
    • Management systems
    • Funding models and financial governance
    • Marketing
  • Focus activities to promote regular physical activity for health in three
    focus areas:
    • Public health promotion and education
    • Health care professionals awareness and education, and
    • Co-ordination and dissemination of appropriate research.

Why we do what we do?

Some call it a no-brainer. Others, a magic bullet. The fact is, groundbreaking research has proved that exercise, at the correct intensity and duration, not only improves the quality of life – it decreases the incidence of disease, chronic health conditions and obesity.

At a time when our nation faces and alarming health crisis, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association launched the Exercise is Medicine program and, with the support of many other prestigious organisations, invite you to be a part of history.

Our Message to Consumers

“If there was one single thing you could do to dramatically improve your health, there is no doubt that it would be exercise,” says Robert Sallis, M.D., 2007-2008 President of the American College of Sports Medicine and current chair of the Exercise is MedicineTM Task Force. “Regular physical activity, at the correct intensity, is so powerful in maintaining and improving health that it should be prescribed, just as a medicine or drug would be.”

A Health Care Call to Action

Join us as we embark on a nationwide campaign to initiate a dialogue between physicians and every American. Our mission is to make sure that exercise is front and centre in every discussion on disease prevention, health and wellness.

A Partnership of Health and Wellness

The Exercise is MedicineTM initiative includes support from the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Regular physical activity at the correct intensity:

  • Significantly improves overall health
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease by 40%
  • Lowers the risk of stroke by 27%
  • Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure, by almost 50%
  • Reduces the incidence of diabetes by almost 50%.
  • Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by almost 50%
  • Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%
  • Can reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease by one-third
  • Can decrease depression as effectively as medications or behavioral therapy

Exercise is medicine. And that’s good news for every segment of our nation, seniors to children.

Our goal is to gain a commitment of focus and funds in four areas:

  1. Policy and Coalition Building: Benefit reimbursements and legislation initiatives.
  2. Physician Tools and Training: Education initiatives to be used in medical schools and doctors’ offices.
  3. Patient Advocacy: Supported by partnerships with national health organizations.
  4. Science and Evidence: Research initiatives to study patient adherence and efficacy.