Prescribing Exercise

By Eliza Pillard, LiCSW

One of the most important components to our Family Based Treatment Approach to child psychiatric issues here at the VCCYF is to “prescribe” our patients engagement in physical activity. Often this takes the form of recommending that a child be enrolled in a team sport, ideally every season.  For some families this comes naturally and they only need a reminder to make exercise and sports participation a priority.  For other families, especially when the adults themselves are not active, having their child participate in a team sport can seem unnecessary or daunting.  In this case helping caregivers understand the benefits of physical exercise not only for the designated patient, but for the adults as well, can have a profound effect on the family culture.  I recently reviewed this 9 minute video:  23 and 1/2 hours: what is the single most important thing for your health?  (spoiler alert!) regarding the benefits of exercise. The video was created by Mike Evans, MD, a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto. The video uses an animated white board technique and is filled with compelling and accessible evidence regarding the health and mental health benefits of daily exercise.

If recommending physical activity as an intervention to improve a child’s mental health is falling on deaf ears, perhaps “prescribing” that a family view this video together would be a reasonable next step.

To read more about Dr. Evan’s work and to view other health related videos/articles go to:


Hudziak, JJ.,& Bartels, M. (2008): Genetic and Environmental Influences on Wellness, Resilience, and Psychopathology: A family-based approach for promotion, prevention, and intervention. In Hudziak, JJ Editor, Developmental Psychopathology and Wellness: Genetic and environmental influences (first edition, pp. 267-282).Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. 

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.