Your 15 minutes

Yesterday I told you how important exercise is. And how it can save your life if you’ve got diabetes.

But I’ve also written recently about how few doctors ever recommend exercise to their patients.

Some people questioned whether recommending exercise is really the job of the practicing physician. Especially given that most doctors only spend, on average, less than 15 minutes with each patient. But here’s what I say to that: Are any of the diabetes medications they’re doling out during those lighting-speed appointments resulting in a 38 percent lower death risk?

I didn’t think so.

Unfortunately, your physician may not always know what type of exercise is best for you or even how to do it. In fact, your doctor may not even exercise themselves. I think that’s downright unacceptable. As far as I’m concerned, if you treat diabetes, or any overweight patients (and in this country, you would be hard pressed not to), then it is your responsibility to make these recommendations. And to lead by example.

This leads me to one last point for the week. Patients must start demanding more than 15 minutes of their doctors’ time and attention.

Please don’t be fooled into thinking this is going to get better any time soon. The way things are headed, visits will only become shorter.

But you don’t have to accept mediocre medical care! If your doctor isn’t willing to spend more time with you, or if you feel rushed during appointments, find a new one who takes his or her time. And who really listens to you. My minimum office visit is 30 minutes. Anything less is unacceptable.