More doctors are talking to their patients about getting exercise, but still, only about a third of patients hear advice from their doctors about moving more.

That’s an improvement, though. A decade ago, only about 20 percent of patients had their doctors recommend to them that they exercise.

The results come from a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has tracked the type of advice given to doctors over the past decade.

Doctors are talking about exercise to some people more than others, though. Seniors have been hearing more about exercise from their doctors, who are advising people over 85 to exercise way more than they did a decade ago. That rate nearly doubled from 15 to 29 percent.

Obese patients heard an exercise recommendation from their doctors about half the time, and a few more than half of patients with diabetes were told to hit the gym.  Both those numbers were increased over the past decade.

In that time, the number of obese and overweight people in North Carolina has slowly increased. In 2001, statewide surveys showed that about 59 percent of North Carolinians were overweight or obese, based on body mass index. That number is now up to 71 percent of the state’s adults and the percentage is even higher in African American, Hispanic and Native American communities.

So, after years of research on the benefits of exercise for overall health – much less for issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure – why aren’t doctors telling everyone to exercise more?  Perhaps the answer lies in another recent study, showing that overweight doctors were less likely to discuss weight loss with their patients.

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Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News, as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992, but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees...