Referring patients to exercise instructors is an effective way of improving physical and mental wellbeing, an official NHS evaluation concludes.
The study of 943 patients is the largest to date of exercise
referral in the UK.
The proportion of patients doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week jumped 13.8 per cent among those referred for exercise classes at a leisure centre.
By comparison, the proportion doing moderate exercise increased 11.1 per cent in patients referred to an instructor-led walking programme and by 7.5 per cent in those who received advice only.
All three groups showed improvements in blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness and mental wellbeing.
Study leader Dr Anthony Isaacs, honorary visiting professor in the school of health and social sciences, Middlesex University, said: 'If your GP says "I will refer you to an exercise specialist who will be able to do tests and tell you what services are around" then that's a good thing to do. I'd compare it to referring to a dietitian.'