Over 180,000 Scots can be spared illness by a simple intervention

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Physical activity can reduce the risk of diabetes by 30%

There are over 600,000 Scots at risk of diabetes

Over 180,000 Scots could avoid diabetes by leading more active lives

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK has responded to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee Preventative Agenda Inquiry with an effective and cost saving intervention, exercise medicine.

Using just one example of the health savings which could be made through increased physical activity, the FSEM is looking to raise awareness of the benefits which Sport and Exercise Medicine can bring to the NHS in Scotland and its preventative agenda, positively affecting the health and life expectancy of many Scots.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg; Sport and Exercise Medicine is uniquely placed to provide skilled services across both Exercise Medicine and Musculoskeletal Medicine and could vastly improve healthcare outcomes for many other common conditions like arthritis, heart disease, cancer and mental health, through working with existing healthcare teams in the NHS.

There is compelling evidence that regular physical activity is effective in the primary prevention of chronic disease and early death[i]:

Disease Risk Reduction via Regular Physical Activity
Heart Disease 40%
Stroke 27%
Colon Cancer 25%
Breast Cancer 24%
Type 2 Diabetes 30%
Hypertension 50%
Source: A Fresh Approach in Practice – NHS North West and the FSEM UK 2011

Dr Paul D Jackson, President of the FSEM, comments: “

There is researched evidence for the effectiveness of physical activity interventions for a whole host of clinical areas across the NHS.  With risk reductions ranging from 24% to 50% for many common conditions, applying Sport and Exercise Medicine services to prevention strategies will bring vastly improved health and clinical outcomes for many Scots.

“Sport and Exercise Medicine is traditionally known for its expertise with teams and athletes, however the medical specialty has a much broader application in public health, bringing years of research and clinical skills in the prevention and management of many conditions. We have trained Sport and Exercise Medicine doctors and consultants, who can assist with and deliver a preventative strategy to the NHS in Scotland today.”

Looking purely at the cost savings which can be made to the NHS, the FSEM has also outlined an example of a Sport and Exercise Medicine led Musculoskeletal Medicine service running in Scotland.  Over a 10 year period, the NHS Tayside MSK Clinic, seeing approximately 800 patients per year, has created a £500k – £650k saving through re-directing traditional Orthopaedic referrals[ii].  The evidence from England reflects this economic benefit too and is outlined in the FSEM’s A Fresh Approach in Practice NHS information document[iii].


[i] Sport and Exercise Medicine Services A Fresh Approach – NHS North West and the FSEM UK 2011

[ii] Source – Dr Niall Elliott, SEM Physician NHS Tayside, presentation SEM/MSK Service Model 2017

[iii] A Fresh Approach in Practice – NHS Information Document, Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK 2014