‘Lack of exercise as harmful as smoking.’ Do GPs have the answer?

Scotland on Sunday has flagged up a major UK health issue in the run up to a Sport and Exercise Medicine Symposium this week: ‘Lack of physical activity is as damaging to health as smoking, alcohol abuse and diabetes combined.‘ According to the news report one solution, raised by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns, would be for GPs to start recording physical activity alongside smoking status and talking to patients about their exercise levels.

Members from the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK, including Dr Andrew Murray, Sport and Exercise Medicine Doctor and GP and Professor Stewart Hillis, OBE, Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular and Exercise Medicine, Glasgow University, will be supporting the physical activity messages coming from Scotland’s CMO at the Symposium by discussing ‘How we can get patients active’ alongside the ‘Medical Challenges in the Commonwealth Games’ at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on Friday (7 February 2014). The messages coming out of the meeting will be key, not just for the health of the population in Scotland, but for people across the UK and the FSEM hopes that the Commonwealth Games this year can provide further inspiration for people to get more active.

Professor Mark Batt, from the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, who will be chairing the Commonwealth Games discussions, comments: “The Commonwealth Games will be a great opportunity to raise awareness of the possibilities for increased physical activity. Although we’d all love to be as fit as Team GB, starting at a level that will enable more physical activity in everyday life is the best approach. The recommended levels include just  150 minutes of moderate exercise per week and this can be easily achieved through small changes like walking more often.”

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine would also like to see an increase in exercise advice and exercise medicine services across the UK to help patients get more active.

Professor Batt continues: “Helping people to understand what levels and types of physical activity are possible for them, will also improve outcomes. Whilst we will all be inspired by the performance of the athletes at the Commonwealth Games, once people begin to understand the true benefits of exercise for health and what exercise prescription can bring them, we may see a much larger take up.”

You can join in the discussion about GPs recording physical activity alongside smoking status on the FSEM Sport and Exercise Medicine My Health Skills page.

You can find useful exercise medicine resources for GPs and Health Professionals on the following websites: Motivate2Move and Exercise Works

GPs interested in having a sub specialty in sport and exercise medicine can find useful information on taking the FSEM Diploma exam here.

Further information on the Sport and Exercise Medicine Hot Topic Symposium can be found on the RCPE website.