Exercise Referral Schemes

This post is going to talk me out of business but it was bought to my attention that not everyone is aware of what their GP can offer them in regards to support to increase physical activity.

The GP Exercise Referral scheme allows doctors and other health professionals to refer people who would benefit from an increased exposure to physical activity to a local leisure centre for a reduced price. The idea behind the scheme is to provide an individual exercise programme for those with medical conditions that could be helped by regular exercise. Your programme will be designed and overseen by qualified fitness professionals. After the initial period (between 10-12 weeks) further discounts might be available to enable you to continue your exercise programme.

To be eligible to take part in an exercise referral scheme, you have to have a medical condition such as:

  • Weight loss (conditions apply)
  • Asthma – not exercise induced and in addition to at least being a smoker and/or sedentary
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Post Phase IV Cardiac Rehab
  • Joint injury rehabilitation
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
  • Cancer – following treatment and in remission
  • Mental Health
The list of health conditions is subject to change, so check with your GP for a full and up-to-date list. This list was courtesy of Waverley Borough Council  


Physical activity has been shown to have the following benefits:

  • Regular physical activity decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in general and of CHD* mortality in particular. Physically inactive people have about double the risk of CHD.
  • Regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure, and reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Physical activity is also important in helping people to control their body weight, and in controlling diabetes.
  • Specific forms of physical activity can help to reduce the risk of falls and accidents,by improving bone health and maintaining strength, co-ordination, cognitive functioning and balance.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer, and evidence is growing to support links with other forms of cancer.
  • Moderate intensity physical activity enhances the immune system.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of depression, and has positive benefits for mental health including reducing anxiety, and enhancing mood and self-esteem.
  • Physical activity can play a valuable role in the prevention and treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain.

This list was taken from  Exercise Referral System: A National Quality Assurance Framework but is echoed in posts on this blog.

A report in 2004 reported that only 17% of men and 12% of women aged 65-74 are reaching the recommended levels of activity of 30+ minutes of moderate intensity 5+ times a week.  However decline in activity is not inevitable, in asian countries activity is maintained, or even increased when older age is reached.

Looking after your health now is important as it will help prevent further problems as you age and improve your quality of life. If you would like to increase your activity levels and think you qualify under the criteria then please speak to your GP. There is never a better time to start exercising than now!

If you have any questions then please leave a comment below. If you don’t qualify for the exercise referral scheme but would like to start exercising then this post  on walking your way to fitness is a good place to start.

*CHD – Coronary Heart Disease
Exercise – NHS Choices

I hope you have found this article informative. If you have any questions on this article, or any questions about exercise please post a comment. By subscribing to this blog you will be informed of any new articles. You will not receive any spam email.

For more information on Personal Training please go here Whole Life Fitness, Personal Training for the over 50s. This will open a new browser window.


About Whole Life Fitness
Whole Life Fitness is a Personal Training business which caters exclusively to the over 50s. It is run by Helen Witcomb in Farnham, Surrey and the surrounding areas. Personal training is not just for the fit and healthy. Leading a more physically active lifestyle will help to maintain an ability to perform everyday tasks as well as helping to prevent immobility and isolation. For more information please call 07785747669, email helenwitcomb@wholelifefitness.co.uk or go to our website at http://www.wholelifefitness.co.uk

2 Responses to Exercise Referral Schemes

  1. Thanks for this. Since you told me about this, I have started a discussion with Dad. His arthritis means he is limited with what he can do, but this is complicated by severe depression. He is quite unmotivated, so it’s a slow process, part of which may be to find the right trainer for him.

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