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Exercise Medicine a Fresh Approach to Physical Inactivity

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29 Aug 2014

Following the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this year, the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) is keeping its eye on the ball when it comes to providing a solution to the significant health problem in the UK caused by physical inactivity*.  The FSEM has launched its second in a series of documents for the NHS, A Fresh Approach in Practice. Aimed at Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Scottish Health Boards and Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland, the document outlines how effective Exercise Medicine can be in tackling chronic diseases, conditions related to physical inactivity and common musculoskeletal conditions.

Rod Jaques, President of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine comments: “The application of Exercise Medicine for the benefit of public health is enormous and the health burden on the NHS of musculoskeletal problems and physical inactivity has reached significant levels. This document is asking the NHS to provide Exercise Medicine services as a solution to the problem and for the long-term benefit of public health. It includes the results of pilot services in surgeries, clinics and hospitals which have successfully used Exercise Medicine services to improve patient outcomes and reduce referrals - something that all NHS commissioners and managers are looking to do.”

Mike Farrar, Independent Management Consultant NHS Confederation, comments in his foreword to the document: “Physical inactivity is now endemic in the UK and we need to look at how we can develop sustainable prevention and treatment models for chronic disease related to inactivity and common musculoskeletal conditions. A Fresh Approach in Practice is a must read for all NHS commissioners.”

Whilst the achievements of the athletes at this year’s Commonwealth Games were admired by the nation, starting small and working towards reaching and maintaining physical activity at the recommended levels (150 minutes of moderate intensity activity plus muscle strength exercises twice per week) can reduce an individual’s risk for over 22 non-communicable diseases by 20-40%.

Physical inactivity costs the UK economy around £8.2 Billion a year**. Increasing levels of physical activity, via tailored prescription, can inexpensively treat chronic diseases prevent co-morbidity and aid recovery and function and vastly improve quality of life and mental health. Applying the unique skills of a Sport and Exercise Medicine Consultant, specifically for exercise and musculoskeletal medicine, could save the NHS money, reduce referrals for costly procedures and services and cut patient waiting times.

You can view A Fresh Approach in Practice on the Faculty’s website and order a copy directly from the FSEM by emailing enquiries@fsem.ac.uk

*Source: Weiler R, Jones N et al. NHS Sport and Exercise Medicine: A Fresh Approach

**Source: Combined direct and indirect costs of physical inactivity CMO 2005


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