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Common conditions set for 'physical activity prescription'

17 October 2018 09:38

Physical activity can help with a number of common illnesses

Physical activity can help with a number of common illnesses

Family doctors are being urged to prescribe physical activity for patients living with some of the most common medical conditions.

According to health officials, GPs should be targeting patients with cancer, depression, dementia, and type 2 diabetes, among others, with information on how to get more active.

Patients should be asked about their physical activity levels, told about how exercise can help their symptoms, and even guided towards doing certain beneficial activities.

It is hoped that the new Moving Medicine toolkit, which provides information for healthcare workers on how to talk about physical activity with patients, will help the initiative.

Lack of confidence

Created by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and Sport England, with support from National Lottery funding, the tool is being launched at the International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress in London.

PHE said that evidence suggests that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a doctor or nurse, but nearly three quarters of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients "due to either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence".

Dr Alison Tedstone, head of physical activity at Public Health England, said: "With millions accessing the NHS every day, healthcare professionals play a vital role in helping people to better understand the benefits of physical activity on their health.

"Taking the time to have these conversations has the power to inspire people to move more and make a big difference to their health."

The kit also includes specific information on diseases including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), musculoskeletal pain, and ischaemic heart disease, as well as information for those who have suffered falls.

A mountain of evidence

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "There is a mountain of evidence to suggest that patients with all kinds of conditions - from depression to diabetes - would benefit from more exercise, yet understandably those suffering with chronic illness are more likely to be inactive.

"That's why it's so important healthcare professionals have the information they need at their fingertips to advise patients with complex health needs on how to get more active - and this doesn't have to mean joining a gym.

"It can be doing more of the things we love, whether that's playing football, swimming or going for long walks.

"I am delighted to launch this brilliant web tool for healthcare professionals. I hope it will help pave the way for a culture shift in medicine where referrals for exercise are just as common as prescriptions for medication."

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