Our health care system is a mess. Our government leaders aren't happy about Medicare spending. Doctors aren't happy because their reimbursements continue to decrease while their insurance skyrockets. Patients aren't happy for a multitude of reasons high insurance premiums, long wait times, rushed visits and a general feeling of being treated like numbers. It's up to fitness and health care professionals to save our health care system. As more physicians prescribe exercise, rather than drugs, amazing things happen. If every health care and fitness professional provided exercise programs for 10 people this week, it would make for a great start.

            We desperately need common sense to be applied to the health care decision-making process. Insurance companies need to truly understand what we have known for years: EXERCISE is the best (and cheapest) medicine. And in a world where anti-depression meds are being dispersed as quickly as candy, it's important to know that, according to the March 2005 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, aerobic exercise is just as good at beating mild to moderate depression as medications. Start planning now for the onslaught of patients that will be coming. Offer programs that are the solutions to these problems and market them extensively in your community.

            We created problem-specific health programs years ago at ReQuest Physical Therapy. We met quarterly with our Advisory Board who told us what kinds of programs were needed. The Gainesville Health & Fitness Center gets many referrals from physicians for general fitness and specific programs. Joe Cirulli, owner and recent recipient of the IHRSA Visionary Leader Award, recently expanded his pool area by adding a hot therapy pool and a cold plunge. They also offer a back fitness program that's successful. When you make people feel better, they want to stay with you for a long time. Start planning your future now add a wellness component to your practice. The next 10 years will be exciting and rewarding as we slowly change the way health care is delivered. The best part is that we'll play key roles in it, and we WILL make a difference one person at a time.

            Molly Foley held the position of Director of ReQues Physical Therapy for 12 years. She is currently working with Joe Cirulli on developing the Core Spinal Fitness Systems. For more information, visit www.corespinalfitness.com.