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'Weak evidence' to support exercise referrals
Date:11/6/2011

Research commissioned by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme and carried out by research teams from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD) and the Universities of Exeter (Sport and Health Sciences) and Brunel (Health Economics Research Group), has called into question the effectiveness of exercise referral schemes as they are delivered at present.

The study is published in the British Medical Journal on-line on Monday 7th November and in press on Friday 12th November.

The findings of the study indicate that there is 'weak evidence' to support exercise referral schemes as a means of increasing the physical activity and improving the health outcomes of sedentary individuals in the long run. The results of the study do not diminish the importance of physical activity promotion but highlight the need to continue to identify cost effective ways to change population prevalence.

There is little doubt that physical activity contributes to the prevention and management of a wide range of medical conditions, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and psychological disorders such as depression. The national recommendation is that adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes' moderate intensity exercise on at least five days a week but only one third of adults in the UK are active to this level.

Exercise referral schemes, where GPs or another member of Primary Care team are able to refer selected patients to exercise specialist often at local gyms and other sports centres, have been part of the arsenal for the prevention and management of medical conditions since the early 1990s.

Few randomised control trials have specifically assessed the impact of exercise referral schemes. Those that have taken place have failed to investigate the health-related benefits (such as changes in blood pressure or depression) exclusively for people with pre-existing conditions such as tho
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Contact: Andrew Gould
andrew.gould@pcmd.ac.uk
44-139-268-6107
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry
Source:Eurekalert

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