A new resource that will help healthcare professionals talk to patients about the benefits of physical activity has been launched at the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) Congress.
The Moving Medicine tool will help people working in roles such as doctors, nurses and physiotherapists advise patients on how physical activity can help to manage their conditions, prevent disease and aid recovery.
Sport England have supported the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine to produce the free tool, in partnership with Public Health England and with support from National Lottery funding.
Currently, one in four people in England aged 16 and over are doing less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, meaning they are inactive.
Physical inactivity is in the top 10 greatest causes of ill health nationally. Evidence shows that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse, yet nearly three quarters of GPs don't speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients because of either a lack of knowledge, skills or confidence.
The tool focuses on helping to address the most common long-term health conditions affecting the population, such as cancer, depression, musculoskeletal pain and type 2 diabetes.
Developed in consultation with more than 300 healthcare professionals and patients and using evidence based step-by-step guidance, Moving Medicine is designed to provide healthcare professionals with the latest evidence to address this knowledge and skills gap in the NHS and support healthier outcomes for patients as a result.
Sarah Ruane, Sport England's strategic lead for health, said healthcare professionals have a vital role to play in encouraging those with illness or injury to become more active.
“We know that it can be difficult to fit being active into busy lives, but for people who are dealing with illness or injury, the thought of being active can be even more daunting,” she said. “That’s why healthcare professionals have such a vital role to play.
“Moving Medicine is a simple idea with huge potential to transform the lives of the millions of people who are inactive and living with health conditions. Equipping healthcare professionals with the practical information that they need to have supportive conversations with their patients will help many more people to experience the range of health benefits that being active can bring.”
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social care, said there was a compelling case to get those suffering from chronic illnesses more active.
“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," he added.
“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.”
Moving Medicine is a key component of the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme, which is designed to support healthcare professionals embed physical activity into their approach to treating patients for key conditions in line with existing National Institute for Health Care Excellence guidance.
The resource has been launched at the seventh ISPAH congress in London, which Sport England has jointly co-hosted with Public Health England.
The conference aims to bring the best minds together to bridge the gap between physical activity research, policy and practice to support healthier nations across the world.
A major campaign is launching in Greater Manchester to get people thinking differently about getting active, supporting people to move more in a way that suits them, giving a clear daily active movement target (30 minutes) to aim for