BENEFITS OF 'SOCIAL PRESCRIBING' OF EXERCISE SMALLER THAN THOUGHT - RESEARCHERS
Data analysed on almost 24000 people across the UK.
So-called "social prescribing" of exercise to patients may not yield the benefits hoped for, researchers have said.
Exercise referral schemes have been at the disposal of GPs since the 1990s.
They were brought in to boost activity levels in people with long-term conditions or at risk of developing them.
But evidence from one of the largest databases of the schemes does little to support their use, researchers from London, Southampton and Sheffield said.
The researchers said improvements in health and well-being were so small that the impact was unclear, and that any UK roll-out "needs to be rethought to maximise their effectiveness".
They analysed data on 23,731 active participants in 13 different schemes, lasting between six weeks and three months, from the UK-wide National Referral Database.
Before and after the schemes, the participants' weight (BMI), blood pressure, and resting heart rate were measured, while scores on mental health and quality of life were calculated.
There were "significant improvements" in most of the measures, except for resting heart rate and diastolic blood pressure.
But the changes were too small to meet the threshold to be clinically meaningful, meaning no firm conclusion on their impact can be drawn.Published: by Radio NewsHub