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I recall once hearing that exercise might be good for you



So what’s so bloody great about exercise, then? I’m sitting here watching these Olympians trying to run faster, jump higher, be stronger. When they can’t, they beat their heads against a wall and when they can, they just burst into tears.

But what do I know? Sod all, according to a report from the House of Lords science and technology committee. Apparently, health professionals in general – and GPs in particular – ‘lack awareness and training’ about the benefits of exercise-based treatments.

What? What are they saying? That exercise really is good for you, after all, despite the evidence of my own eyes (see first paragraph)? That I really should be advising patients with everything from diabetes to depression to get off their sad, sugary arses rather than encouraging them, as I do presently, to stay welded to the sofa trying to invent a remote control that controls remote controls lost between cushions or folds of blubber? No kidding? Okay, in that case I can’t wait to dust off my ‘exercise on prescription’ pad: yesterday’s wobbly blob of inertia will obviously be tomorrow’s answer to the gold medal shortage.

Actually, now I think about it, I do dimly recall once hearing that exercise might be good for you. So maybe, science and technology committee, it isn’t a lack of ‘awareness and training’ that’s the problem. It’s just that trying to convince the reluctant masses of the benefits of exercise and cajole them into action is about as rewarding and effective as any one of a number of other preventive activities we’re constantly told we’re underperforming in, such as smoking cessation, fighting obesity, reducing problem drinking, intervening in domestic violence and on and on. In other words, not very.

About 99.9% of the patients don’t give a toss, so, after 20 years of trying, frankly nor do I.

Anyway, back to the Olympics. Go, team GB, go! Though where, exactly, I obviously have no idea.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at tonycopperfield@hotmail.comand follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield