I am a keen advocate of the benefits of exercise as part of the journey to health restoration. I therefore wholeheartedly back the government scheme that means NHS patients will be prescribed exercise as part of ongoing treatment for certain conditions.
The workouts are set for patients who suffer from obesity, heart disease, stress, diabetes, osteoporosis and back pain. It has also been created for pensioners who have suffered accidents or falls.
In a bid to make the country healthier and to cut hospital waiting lists, the schemes are making aerobics, yoga, weight training and swimming either free or discounted for up to ten weeks at a time.
For many of the patients who visit my clinics, this kind of help and support is extremely welcomed. The sheer fact that exercise is now classed as a treatment plan and not just an advisory action will almost certainly change its level of importance in patients’ minds. If a doctor prescribes a patient antibiotics, then they will take the prescribed course – the same commitment is now likely to start evolving for exercise.
Department of Health guidance has been provided to doctors which highlights precisely what can be described for certain patients. Insurance cover and legal responsibilities (for patients who attend the gym under prescription) have also been addressed. Exercise specialists published by Fitness Industry Association will take legal responsibility while patients are exercising under these prescription workouts.
I know that all biological systems work in conjunction with one another and I am positive that a national increase in exercise will result in fewer people needing medical treatment for illness or disease. It will also go a long way towards placing a higher value on regular physical exercise, the importance of maintaining good health and working on the notion of prevention rather than cure.
I have always been interested in the power of exercise. In 1995, I researched the “exercise on prescription” model with 60 GPs and wrote a dissertation entitled “The effects of exercise on clinical depression”. The “exercise on prescription” model being trialled then enabled GPs and allied healthcare professionals to refer patients with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and depression, for a monitored exercise regimen instead of prescribing medication.
Just like I believe our biological systems do not work in isolation, neither does treatment. By looking at both the cause and treatment of conditions in more entirety, perhaps we can start to get the whole country healthier.