This post is going to talk me out of business but it was bought to my attention that not everyone is aware of what their GP can offer them in regards to support to increase physical activity.

The GP Exercise Referral scheme allows doctors and other health professionals to refer people who would benefit from more physical activity to a local leisure centre for a reduced price. The idea behind the scheme is to provide an individual exercise programme for those with medical conditions that could be helped by regular exercise. Your programme will be designed and overseen by qualified fitness professionals. After the initial period (between 10-12 weeks) further discounts might be available to enable you to continue your exercise programme.

To be eligible to take part in an exercise referral scheme, you have to have a medical condition such as:

  • Weight loss (conditions apply)
  • Asthma – not exercise induced and in addition to at least being a smoker and/or sedentary
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Post Phase IV Cardiac Rehab
  • Joint injury rehabilitation
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
  • Cancer – following treatment and in remission
  • Mental Health
The list of health conditions is subject to change, so check with your GP for a full and up-to-date list. This list was courtesy of Waverley Borough Council

Physical activity has been shown to have the following benefits:

  • Regular physical activity decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in general and of CHD* mortality in particular. Physically inactive people have about double the risk of CHD.
  • Regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure, and reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Physical activity is also important in helping people to control their body weight, and in controlling diabetes.
  • Specific forms of physical activity can help to reduce the risk of falls and accidents,by improving bone health and maintaining strength, co-ordination, cognitive functioning and balance.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer, and evidence is growing to support links with other forms of cancer.
  • Moderate intensity physical activity enhances the immune system.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of depression, and has positive benefits for mental health including reducing anxiety, and enhancing mood and self-esteem.
  • Physical activity can play a valuable role in the prevention and treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain.

This list was taken from  Exercise Referral System: A National Quality Assurance Framework but is echoed in posts on my blog.

A report in 2004 reported that only 17% of men and 12% of women aged 65-74 are reaching the recommended levels of activity of 30+ minutes of moderate intensity 5+ times a week.  However decline in activity is not inevitable, in asian countries activity it is maintained, or even increased when older age is reached.

Looking after your health now will help prevent further problems as you age and improve your quality of life. Exercise is important. If you would like to increase your activity levels and think you qualify under the criteria then please speak to your GP. There is never a better time to start exercising than now!

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below. If you don’t qualify for the exercise referral scheme but would like to start exercising then this post  on walking your way to fitness is a good place to start.

This article has been previously published here: Whole Life Fitness




Having worked in IT in London for 15 years I was made redundant in 2009. I had trained as a gym instructor whilst working and decided I would rather spend the rest of my career doing something I loved than look for another job in IT. I furthered my qualifications with a Certificate in Advanced Personal Training from the highly regarded Premier Training. Many personal trainers are generalists covering all areas of fitness but I took the decision to specialise in the over-50s and therefore went on to do a CYQ Award in Functional Training for the Independent Older Adult Level 3. My focus is on overall health rather than fitness. I believe that making small changes can have a long term positive effect on health and well-being.

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