Boston Medical Center (BMC) is pioneering a new approach to encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles among its patients with type 2 diabetes, that enables primary care providers to refer eligible patients to a structured exercise and nutrition program at Healthworks Community Fitness in Dorchester.  

The pilot, directed through BMC’s Health Equity Accelerator, aims to leverage the proven benefits of regular physical activity for managing all indicators of Type 2 diabetes including A1C (which measures blood sugar levels), weight and circumference measurements. Many BMC patients face a higher risk of these conditions yet have lower levels of physical activity. 

Under this innovative referral model, physicians, nurses, and pharmacists at BMC’s General Internal Medicine and Family Medicine clinics can refer female patients with Type 2 diabetes to an 8-week program at Healthworks Community Fitness. 

The Healthworks Community Fitness program includes pre- and post-assessments, progressive aerobic and strength training, dietary counseling, and hands-on cooking demonstrations. The program is at no cost for enrolled BMC patients.  

Early results from previous 8-week rotations to the Healthworks Community Fitness program are promising, with a 94% completion rate and median weight loss of 7.6 lbs. among Codman Square Health Center patients. 

The Exercise Referral pilot kicked off on April 8, 2024, with 20 BMC patients already enrolled. BMC and Healthworks Community Fitness are collaborating closely, holding weekly meetings to review patient data. After the program concludes, post-assessment results will be uploaded to participants’ electronic medical records. 

If successful, the exercise referral approach could be expanded to more BMC clinics and additional qualifying programs in the Boston area, with the goal of making it a sustainable offering for BMC patients through partnerships with payors and other funders. 

This pilot program has the potential to transform how lifestyle interventions are integrated into medical care at BMC and beyond. By connecting patients to structured exercise and nutrition programs in the community, providers can take a proactive step towards improving health outcomes and health equity, which is something Healthworks is committed to with Healthworks Community Fitness. 

To learn more about Healthworks Community Fitness and donate to our efforts to close the health equity gap by providing high quality fitness opportunities, please click here