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GPs ‘should recommend joining walking groups’ to their patients

GPs should recommend patients with chronic conditions join a walking group to help them improve their overall health, according to a study by University of East Anglia researchers.

Walking groups offered people a wide range of mental and physical benefits, above and beyond what would be expected from the increased levels of physical activity involved, the team claimed.

The researchers carried out a meta-analysis on 42 studies of group walking, which included patients with various long-term conditions such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, fibromyalgia, obesity/overweight, mental health problems and Parkinson’s disease.

The patients who joined walking groups had significant falls in blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, weight and total cholesterol, as well as improvements in lung power, overall physical functioning and general fitness – with effects bigger than those achieved in people walking alone. People who joined walking groups were also less depressed than before they took up walking.

Three-quarters of the participants stuck taking part in the group walks, and no notable side effects were reported in any of the studies, the researchers noted.

The team concluded: ‘This systematic review and meta-analysis provides evidence that outdoor walking groups have health benefits over and above making people more physically active.’

They added: ‘It may provide clinicians with evidence of a further effective option to recommend to those patients who would benefit from increasing moderate physical activity.’

Br J Sports Med 2015; available online 19 Jan

Readers' comments (12)

  • And why dont I just wipe there backsides for them.No. people and society should just think for themselves for once.

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  • People should just do it themselves !

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  • We recommend lots of things already but most take absolutely no notice.

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  • Doctor, I followed your advice and all this walking has really aggravated the arthritis in my knees, hip and back, so I am going to sue for compensation for all my distress.

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  • Yet another "great" piece of research to ignore and carry on with the day job.

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  • A seasonal "GPs should"- January is often a time to decide to get fit. How should we advise our patients about buying annuities I wonder? Perhaps some "researchers" could give us some instructions.

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  • If a 'Study' was required to give guidance to GPs to advice patients to walk, I would be damned if I gave funding to the Instituition.
    C'mon Research colleagues, do something meaningful - it is no good justifying research spending be telling me in a year's time that GPs should advise patients to drink more water.

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  • usual negative comments from 'anonymous'- try clicking the link and actually reading the paper instead of moaning about something you haven't read..the most interesting thing it s that the words/initials 'general practitioner'/'GP' do not appear in at all, so a slightly misleading headline to fuel the usual Pulse negativism.

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  • Jeez....walking has health benefits....who would of thought it. This is going to radically change my management of sedentary, overweight, unfit patients.

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  • Walking!you must be having a laugh! How about Funding a skiing trip

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