1251 GMT May 24, 2019
Public Health England (PHE) said GPs too often failed to raise the topic — because they were ignorant of the benefits of exercise, or were not sure how to bring it up, telegraph.co.uk reported.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for ‘a culture shift’ in medicine where referrals for exercise were as common as doling out a drug prescription.
He asked doctors to act on a ‘mountain of evidence’ showing that activity such as football, long walks or swimming can cut the risk of illness and boost survival from major diseases.
PHE’s review of the evidence links moderate activity — around 30 minutes brisk walking, cycling or swimming, five times a week — to a reduced risk of a host of diseases.
Diabetes and high blood pressure risks were found to be 50 percent lower among regular exercisers, with risks of heart disease down by 40 percent, and rates of depression and cancer at least one quarter lower.
The studies show rates of dementia and frailty were around one fifth lower among those who regularly took exercise.
Officials highlighted a survey of 100 GPs which found that 72 percent do not speak to their patients about the importance of physical activity. Doctors said they did not know how to bring it up, especially with patients who were old or unfit.
PHE said that evidence suggests that one in four patients would be more active if advised by a doctor or nurse.