A report from the Royal Society for Public Health has called for GP drop-in services to be made available in fitness facilities.
The charity, which is chaired by former health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, said it wants ‘health professionals… to build and maintain stronger links with fitness facilities’, arguing that fitness instructors are an ‘untapped resource’ when it comes to public health promotion.
The report’s recommendations included ’embedding the co-location of smoking cessation and GP drop-in services in fitness facilities’, and for ‘health professionals to increase the use of exercise referral schemes.’
The report, co-authored with health and fitness charity ukactive, also called for ‘standardised health screening tools’ to be developed and deployed ‘across the fitness industry’.
They also want the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) to ‘finalise robust professional standards for all exercise professionals in the UK, incorporating a broader public health focus’.
And they recommend that fitness facilities begin ‘piloting of exercise classes aimed at improving mental wellbeing’.
A survey of the public quoted in the report found 51% of the public ‘would be comfortable’ with smoking cessation services being co-located within fitness facilities, while 53% were comfortable with GP drop-in services in the gym.
RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: ‘As this report demonstrates, exercise professionals have a great opportunity to be an active part of this wider public health workforce, and there is appetite from the public for this to happen.
‘Our recommendations set out a blueprint for making this ambition a reality, in a way that is effective and evidence-based.’
It comes as a Pulse investigation last week revealed that nine out of ten councils have cut spending on sexual health, alcohol misuse and weight management services.