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LANGKAWI, Nov 21 — Malaysian doctors want the government to legislate exercise as a form of treatment for chronic diseases to provide a benchmark to health practitioners.

Dr Lee Chee Peng who heads the Scientific Committee at the World Conference on Exercise Medicine here said regulation is needed for doctors, dietitians and physiotherapists to prescribe suitable exercise to patients suffering from early non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as the first course of treatment.

For this, he said the government will need to bring back the shelved National Fitness Bill, proposed in 2008 and which had been tabled twice in Parliament but was not discussed further since.

“The Fitness Bill will regulate exercise medicine if it was passed, but sadly it was not brought forward after going to the Parliament twice,” he told reporters here today.

Dr Lee said the idea of exercise as medicine was delicate matter and required stringent laws in place to ensure the practice was done properly.

“The concept of exercise medicine would require more manpower and a more thorough health screening… something like a one-to-one session, because we cannot simply prescribe exercise for hypertension or diabetic patients.

“We need to understand the severity of their health condition, blood level and others before prescribing the right kind of exercise for them” he said.

In 2008, the Bill proposed for local and foreign coaches to be registered and accorded qualification.

Preliminary guidelines under the proposed law include enabling coaches to be more sensitive on the safety and preventive elements in training.

Separately, Dr Lee said his committee had worked on a pilot project with the Health Ministry on exercise medicine in 2012.

According to deputy director on disease control (non-communicable diseases) Dr Omar Mihat, who was one of the speaker at the conference, the pilot programme that incorporated light exercises such as push-ups and some aerobics was a success.

“The outcome has been positive as more than 50 per cent of clients with prehypertension condition managed to get their optimum blood pressure level after exercising,” Dr Omar said.

The programme was conducted in seven public health clinics in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor and took in more than 50 patients in total.

The three-day World Conference on Exercise Conference here is the first to be held in the country and ends today.

Among the topics discussed include scientific evidences and the antidotes to prevent as well as treat NCDs.

More than 20 renowned speakers around the globe presented their papers and ongoing researches at the conference.