The Sports Institute

We work to expand participation and safety in sports.

Exercise Rx

Motivation

Physical inactivity is a major public health crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased sedentary behavior globally. Regular physical activity helps prevent and manage over 40 medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. However, exercise is under-discussed and under-prescribed in healthcare settings, and this coincides with an increasing need to address health disparities. 

For exercise to become as easy to prescribe as a medication at the right dose and time, providers need an effective and easy way to capture patients’ physical activity levels and prescribe tailored exercise plans, while patients need recommendations tailored to their health conditions.

Approach

To combat physical inactivity, we built Exercise Rx, an integrated digital health platform. Exercise Rx consists of a patient app, provider dashboard, and a proprietary smartphone exercise-sensing system, which enables healthcare providers to easily prescribe physical activity. Created in partnership with the Ubicomp Lab in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, the platform aims to promote sustainable behavior change around physical activity habits and deepen the relationship between patients and their care teams.

Exercise Rx was built with the belief that physical activity is a vital component of physical and mental wellness, and our efforts are aligned with the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine initiative and the national Physical Activity Alliance. Our aim is for Exercise Rx to become the “go to” resource for health care providers and patients of all ages and ability levels to find personalized physical activity solutions.

Where We Are

  • We’ve recently integrated the platform into EPIC, the electronic health record (EHR) system used at UW Medicine for research

  • We are completing our first clinical study with patients using the app and preparing ExerciseRx platform for wider research use in other clinics and across multiple medical specialties for which demand for a physical activity monitoring and prescribing solution is high. This crucial progress will be possible with funding support.

  • In addition to the platform, The Sports Institute has built a search tool for providers and patients to find free and low-cost community-based exercise resources. It also features Exercise Anywhere, online resources and suggestions for home or work-based exercises to best support diverse needs and ability levels.

To learn more, please contact us at ExerciseRX@uw.edu or see how you can support the project.