The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Human Performance and Recreation has partnered with the Gateway Program at Anatomies of Hattiesburg on a cutting-edge fitness referral program designed to improve patient wellness.
Anatomies is currently the only private fitness club in the region that has allocated resources toward a self-contained, supervised wellness program of this type that welcomes physician-referred patients for specialized exercise prescription.
Gateway participants meet with Anatomies’ medical fitness professionals twice per week for 45 days in a small group setting and are referred after receiving an actual “prescription for fitness” from their local physician or medical practitioner. Partnering medical providers that recognize a patient’s need to reduce body weight or improve fitness levels will write a “prescription” for exercise at Anatomies’ Gateway Program.
“This program is for anyone who can benefit from an exercise program to improve an existing condition or quality of life,” said Lee Armstrong, who facilitates the link between physician referral and Gateway participation as the program’s coordinator. “One great thing about this program is that it is the most affordable option for every patient. The entire 45-day program will only cost each referred patient $45.”
Current health care costs continue to skyrocket, resulting largely from an increase in claims due to obesity and obesity-related diseases and disorders. Subsequently, the American College of Sports Medicine, in conjunction with the American Medical Association, has launched “Exercise is Medicine,” a global initiative to help health care providers to become effective at consistently counseling and referring patients with regard to their physical activity needs.
Dr. Brian Gearity, assistant professor in the School of Human Performance and Recreation, helped design the Gateway Program and advises Anatomies staff with implementation. “This program works by building a customized fitness plan to meet the individual’s needs,” he said.
According to Gearity, the program will be an outlet for Southern Miss to better prepare fitness professionals by involving them in the unique referral initiative. Southern Miss colleagues who have provided support to the program include Dr. Geoffrey Hudson and Dr. Michael Webster.
All participants in Anatomies Gateway Program must first be referred by a physician. The program will notify physicians of the progress of their patients, thereby keeping the lines of communication open between the doctor’s office and the fitness facility.
The program’s rewards are perhaps best summarized by Dr. Ron Davis, president of the American Medical Association. “If we had a pill that contained all the benefits of exercise, it would be the most widely used and prescribed drug in the world.”
The Gateway Program aims to serve as such a “pill” to improve health outcomes for local residents. Additionally, The University of Southern Mississippi and Anatomies will continue its partnership to build a long-lasting wellness structure in the Pine Belt, while giving students the chance to participate in the future of health care.
For more information about the Gateway Program at Anatomies, contact Armstrong at 601.579.9555. For information about the Southern Miss School of Human Performance and Recreation call 601.266.5386.