Views & Reviews

Doctors should be able to prescribe exercise like a drug

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2468 (Published 05 May 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2468
  1. David Nunan, departmental lecturer
  1. Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, UK
  1. david.nunan{at}phc.ox.ac.uk

Few think that brief advice can change behaviour

About a quarter of men and a third of women in the United Kingdom describe themselves as physically inactive.1 These make for worrying statistics, given that a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for about 5.3 million premature deaths a year globally.2

The UK medical royal colleges and others have called for healthcare professionals to help tackle the problem,3 4 5 urging primary care professionals to lead the fight and to “question patients about their physical activity and exercise habits at every meeting.”3

Such calls seem to be going unheard, however. Some 92% of 346 GPs and 99% of 206 nurses surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that promoting physical activity was important.6 But saying and doing …

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