Physical activity training in US medical schools: Preparing future physicians to engage in primary prevention

Mark Stoutenberg, Selina Stasi, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Dagmara Danek, Taylor Dufour, Jennifer L. Trilk, Steven N. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Medical professionals serve as influential sources of information and guidance for their patients. Medical school may be an opportune time to provide future physicians with training in physical activity (PA) so that it can be more effectively addressed in clinical practice. Methods: To assess the inclusion and amount of PA training in US medical school curricula, we attempted to conduct structured interviews with the program directors of the 171 accredited US medical education programs in the spring of 2013. Results: Seventy-four schools (allopathic, n = 64; osteopathic, n = 10) completed the structured interviews. Fifty-eight programs (78.4%) reported having PA training included as a part of their curriculum. Thirty-five (61.4%) and 25 (43.9%) programs included instruction on national aerobic and strength training guidelines, respectively. Thirty-one programs (56.4%) felt that they offered a sufficient level of PA-related training for their students to successfully counsel their patients in the future. Over the 4 years of medical school, an average of 8.1 (± 9.8) h of mandatory PA training was offered. Conclusion: Though many medical schools report providing some level of PA content, the time dedicated for this training is still low in comparison to other topics, such as nutrition education, which are featured more prominently. New and innovative ideas are needed for the integration of more, higher quality PA training for our next generation of medical practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-394
Number of pages7
JournalPhysician and Sportsmedicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • Behavior change
  • Exercise
  • Medical education
  • Physical activity
  • Students
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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