Physical activity can be as beneficial as prescription medicines, and health care providers can help by monitoring exercise as they do other vital signs, University of South Carolina public health researcher Steven Blair told new doctors at the University of British Columbia. "The major health problems around the world -- certainly in North American and Europe -- are noncommunicable diseases. And what are the causes of noncommunicable disease -- diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer? It's unhealthy lifestyles. That's a major cause of our health problems," Blair said.