Report calls for presciption of exercise as an effective and cheap ‘medicine’

We know that exercise is key in both preventing and managing disease, but the Sport and Exercise Medicine Committee Working Party of the Royal College of Physicians has found that doctors and other health professionals may lack knowledge about the benefits of exercise and also practical skills in the prescription of exercise to patients for conditions that can be helped by physical activity.Their report, Exercise for Life, calls on the legacy from the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to change this.

The Royal College of Physicians recommends that:

  • a national strategy for physical activity, health and wellness, which is medically driven, is developed
  • expertise from the sport and exercise medicine (SEM) specialty is spread across all health professionals
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) incentives for physical activity interventions are developed
  • medical students should receive education in SEM as part of the national curriculum
  • the providers of exercise instruction – physicians, GPs, should work to appropriate professional standards, which should be developed to aid the identification of care pathways
  • the legacy from the London 2012 Olympics should be used to develop pilot projects.

Professor Mark Batt, president of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, said:

“Exercise is an effective and cheap prevention and treatment. Unlike many drugs there are few side-effects and of course it can be good for the environment too. Despite this, there remains reluctance among healthcare professionals, including doctors to ask about physical activity levels and use exercise as a treatment. There needs to be a concerted effort directed at improving medical knowledge and engagement and royal colleges should show leadership in this area.”

It’s hoped that hosting the Olympics will help to kick-start this drive.


Royal College of Physicians. Exercise for life: physical activity in health and disease [PDF]. London: RCP, 2012.



Share this post: Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share via email

Sarah Chapman

My name is Sarah Chapman. I have worked on systematic reviews and other types of research in many areas of health for the past 17 years, for the Cochrane Collaboration and for several UK higher education institutions including the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Nursing Institute. I also have a background in nursing and in the study of the History of Medicine.

More posts

Follow me here –