Workshop 4: Barriers to integrating physical activity into patient pathways – making every contact count


William Bird (Chief Executive, Intelligent Health), Kay Thompson (Strategic Lead for sHealth, Sport England)


There is evidence for the benefit of exercise in many forms of disease. It is effective, inexpensive, with a low side-effect profile, and can have a positive environmental impact. Despite this, there remains reluctance within the medical profession to use exercise as a treatment. This probably reflects a lack of understanding of the benefits of exercise among doctors and other health care professionals, and insufficient practical skills in prescribing exercise in disease states. Frequently, the risks of exercise are misunderstood and overestimated.
The medical profession can contribute to health benefits from exercise in two ways: by raising the overall participation rate in physical activity and hence reducing disease; and by prescribing exercise to manage illness and injury.

Headline question

What are the main barriers facing health care professionals in prescribing and promoting physical activity as a prevention and cure for ill-health?

Workshop debate

What needs to happen in terms of promoting physical activity to all patient groups to ensure that every contact counts?

Concluding Discussion

In 5 years’ time what would success look like in terms of integrating physical activity into patient pathways?

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