INTRODUCTION: Literature indicates that physical activity is a health practice that can prevent chronic diseases of
lifestyle. It is recommended that medical practitioners, among them physicians, should hold the responsibility of
counseling patients on physical activity. This review attempts to establish whether physical inactivity among
physicians is a risk factor to counseling practices on physical activity.
METHODS: Databases searched included Science direct, Pubmed, Eric, Health sources consumer edition, Health
sources: nursing/academic edition, Sports discuss and Medline through January 2000 to February 2010. All studies
testing if physical inactivity is a risk factor to counseling practices among physicians were included in the review.
The critical thinking tool for quasi experimental studies and the Joanna Briggs Institute Meta Analysis of Statistics
Assessment and Review Instruments were used to evaluate quasi experimental and cross sectional studies
RESULTS: Two quasi experimental studies and four cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria and were
evaluated. There was strong evidence for an association between physical inactivity and counseling practices,
indicating that physicians who exercised regularly were more likely to counsel patients on physical activity and vice
versa. Levels of physical activity were seen to decrease as years of training progressed among resident physicians
in one study while in another the levels were consistent. Lack of knowledge about details of physical activity
prescriptions was also blamed for inadequate counseling.
Discussion/ conclusion: There is significant indication that inadequate counseling concerning physical activity by
physicians may be related to their personal physical activity patterns. Measures around enhancing this health
practice should be enhanced by all stakeholders including physicians and patients. Further reasons for failure to
counsel and hindrances to participation on physical activity among medical doctors and other health professionals
should be explored.