Medical experts have recommended that exercise is something which GPs should be prescribing more often, describing it as “a wonder drug” which is important in the prevention of many common diseases.
The report from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges says that physical activity plays a significant role in the management of long term conditions but its impact is so positive that it needs to take a greater role in the daily routine of children and adults, the Daily Mail reports.
There is, it says, a direct correlation between the increasingly sedentary lifestyle and conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
And worryingly, over 40 per cent of adults do not reach the minimum recommended level of 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five times per week.
Regular exercise can prevent dementia, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, heart disease and other common serious conditions – reducing the risk of each by at least 30% – better than many drugs.
But rather than simply telling doctors to send their patients down the gym or pounding the streets in lycra, the authors suggest there are a huge number of ways to raise the heart rate which fit into a person’s schedule.
The report says that fun activities are more likely to be sustained, suggesting many activities can be promoted including dog walking, dancing and even having sex. ‘Basing activities in communities leads to sustained acceptance’ it says, although the report offers no comment on whether this applies to the latter activity.
And it is not just the health of patients which will improve with more adults taking part in community dance classes or training for charity events: The costs of physical inactivity to the UK, the NHS and other public bodies are estimated to be in excess of £15bn.
There are also other costs which are less simple to quantify, including the effects of bad health on families and communities. Lack of physical activity is, is says, acknowledged as one of the top four factors responsible for premature deaths and long term diseases.
Chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Professor Dame Sue Bailey sailed:
“This is about people and their doctors believing that the small effort involved is worth it because they are worth it.
“There really is a miracle cure staring us in the face, one which too many patients and doctors have quite simply forgotten about.
“This is about people and their doctors believing that the small effort involved is worth it because they are worth it. This needs to work across the life-course, from children to the very elderly.”
But the advice was not welcomed everywhere, with Joyce Robins of Patient Concern saying, “It’s none of GPs’ business to be talking about patients’ sex lives. I would take amiss at that and I’m sure many others would too.
“This is particularly true as nowadays most patients don’t even know their family doctor.”