Exercise prescribed in general practitioner referral schemes: A case study
Exercise programmes aim to promote weight loss as well as the health benefits stemming from physical activity. This article seeks to identify and evaluate the type of exercise prescribed for clients referred to three particular GP exercise schemes. We attempted to take a critical, but constructive look at three GP exercise referral schemes run by leisure centres located in North Essex (England) so as to evaluate them from a qualitative perspective. Data was collected through questionnaires and interviews, which were administered to the exercise professionals who ran the schemes. Data was additionally collected throughout a random routine exercise session to determine exercise intensity, mode and duration. The exercise most commonly performed was walking (87%) and bicycle exercise (92.5%) at moderate intensity (128.2 +/- 4.8beats.min(-1)). Based on the evidence presented in our study, the type and mode of exercise applied in the exercise referral programmes complies to general recommendations for the development and maintenance of cardiorespiratory fitness; yet the number of weekly exercise sessions is insufficient. However, due to the fact that the target group consists of sedentary unfit individuals, high intensity exercise, which is the key factor in weight loss, is avoided. Finally, although the program was targeted significantly towards an approach emphasising on long term goals, its session frequency does not persuade the previously sedentary client to comply with it in the long run.