Adopting a ‘choosing wisely’ culture in clinical practice, can exercise intervention provide an answer?

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK (FSEM) supports the launch of a Choosing Wisley Programme in clinical practice by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. As the NHS faces a £30bn funding gap by 2020* the need to tackle preventable illness and disease effectively and efficiently has never been greater.

Medical decisions based on the best match between what is known about the benefits and harms of each intervention and the goals and preferences of each patient is a common sense approach outlined in the Choosing Wisely in the UK report. However, the pressure on GPs and Doctors to provide a quick solution is enormous, while sickness and absence rises with an increase in many preventable conditions.

A sustainable alternative intervention is available, which can improve public health for the long term and reduce the pressures facing the NHS. Physical activity and Exercise Medicine are under resourced and under used by the health profession and can provide cost effective prevention and intervention for many common conditions and illnesses**.

A good example of this in practice is the management of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which account for up to 30% of all primary care consultations***. Sport and Exercise Medicine doctors can offer alternative pathways in managing common MSK conditions. The majority do not convert to surgery or need disease modifying drugs and can be managed in different models of care which streamline the pathway for patients and can be more cost effective for commissioners, while still attractive for hospital trusts.

If the NHS routinely offered an effective and patient centred programme of physical activity and exercise medicine interventions, it could lead to a real reduction in the over-use of more established clinical treatments.


For further information view the FSEM’s Manifesto – Making the Physically Active Choice. For further evidence of the effectiveness of exercise medicine in treating MSK conditions view – A Fresh Approach in Practice

*NHS England 2013

**A Fresh Approach – FSEM NHS Information Document 2012

***A Fresh Approach in Practice – FSEM NHS Information Document 2014

Notes to Editors:

  • The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine was launched in 2006 and is an intercollegiate faculty of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • The Faculty has over 560 Members and Fellows, not including medical students
  • There are around 94 Sport and Exercise Medicine Doctors on the GMC specialist register
  • The FSEM not only sets standards in SEM but oversees research, training, curriculum and assessment of SEM Doctors, including providing revalidation services
  • Sport and Exercise Medicine consultants work in a variety of musculoskeletal and exercise medicine services across NHS primary and secondary care. They also work within sports from the ‘grass routes’ level up to supporting international teams and athletes.
  • The specialty has a large scale application in improving the musculoskeletal and physical health of the general public through exercise advice and prescription. Further information about the specialty can be found in the Media & Resources section at

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For further information contact Beth Cameron, PR & Communications for the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine.