08 Aug 2019

Sport England has teamed up with the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) to launch the Active Practice Charter. The charter inspires and celebrates GP practices that are taking steps to increase activity in their patients and staff. One in four people saying they would be more active if it was recommended by a GP or nurse, and the charter includes a toolkit that will support GPs to raise the subject of activity with patients and achieve Active Practice status.

Sport England chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, welcomed the charter’s introduction. 

“Physical activity has a key role to play in helping people manage and improve their health and wellbeing,” he said. 

“As trusted sources of information, GPs and practice teams have a real opportunity to start discussions that help it become the new normal in their community – for prevention as well as treatment.

Cost to the nation

“This toolkit will help busy GPs talk to patients about getting active and recommend local opportunities as part of their routine practice. 

“We’re delighted to be celebrating those GP practices who are promoting active lifestyles to patients and staff through the Active Practice Charter.” 

Physical inactivity is estimated to cost the nation more than £7 billion a year, while research shows regular physical activity can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by as much as 35% and decrease the risk of early death by as much as 30%. 

However, while many GPs already promote physical activity, barriers to prescribing exercise or discussing physical activity have been identified – for example, GPs not having enough time in consultations to have effective conversations with patients.

“Busy GPs can’t be expected to do everything when it comes to getting the nation more active, but we can play a vital role in starting the conversation with patients,” said Dr Andrew Boyd, RCGP clinical champion for physical activity and lifestyle. 

“By making small changes in our own workplace – using standing desks, encouraging active transport for staff, and partnering with local physical activity providers, for example – we can demonstrate to patients that being more active is good for everyone’s physical and mental health.”

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