Translating Physical Activity Evidence to Hospital Settings: A Call for Culture Change

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Abstract

Extensive evidence exists on the multiple physical and psychological benefits of physical activity (PA) across the lifespan. Yet, the vast majority of Americans engage in highly sedentary lifestyles, and most do not meet recommended PA levels that can achieve health benefits. Moreover, nurses and other healthcare providers are highly inconsistent in their PA recommendations to patients in all settings, as well as in achieving their own levels of PA. The consequences are growing obesity and health-related conditions, disability, and mortality. A culture change is sorely needed that reimagines and reintegrates PA into the course of daily life activities. In this article, we present the research on PA benefits, declining PA levels, and healthcare practice deficits and propose designing an inpatient unit of the future with a mission of PA for all that is integrated into the fabric and operations of the unit. Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point ideas are used as a change framework to guide strategies recommended in this futuristic unit. These strategies include leadership by clinical nurse specialists, engagement of other key people, resources, and structures. The entire process will require bold leadership and a willingness to think outside existing models of hospital care, which are costly and outdated.

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