A toolkit that will help health professionals advise patients on how physical activity can help manage their conditions and aid recovery has been launched, after it emerged three-quarters of GPs do not speak about the health benefits of physical exercise.
The Moving Medicine toolkit was produced by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and Sport England to help give medical professionals the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to properly advise their patients on how physical activity can help them.
It gives advice on how exercise can help the 10 most common long-term health conditions, such as cancer, depression, type 2 diabetes and musculoskeletal issues.
The resource was developed with input from 300 healthcare professionals and patients and advises on the information that should be shared with the patient based on how much time the healthcare professional has with them, ranging from one minute to a conversation of five minutes or more.
Dr Paul Jackson, president at the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK), said: “We all believe that introducing more physical activity into every care pathway across the NHS is an essential, cost-effective intervention to improve people’s health.
“Moving Medicine will ensure that all healthcare professionals have up-to-date information on physical activity presented in a usable, easy to understand format, enabling them to inform their patients and motivate them to become more active.”
On Monday Theresa May launched the government’s first loneliness strategy to help tackle what she described as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.
Under the plans, GPs will be able to refer isolated people to community activities – including exercise classes – by 2023.
The government claimed that up to a fifth of adults in the UK feel lonely all or most of the time, and suggested that loneliness could be as bad for health as smoking or obesity.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said it is hoped the Moving Medicine toolkit will help encourage health professionals to make referrals for exercise just as common as prescriptions for medication.
“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.”