Patients face GP quiz on exercise in new scheme

Patients will be questioned by their GPs about how much exercise they do, under a new scheme which promotes physical activity to help combat health problems.

Pilot scheme will see GPs and health professionals encourage adults to exercise more

Doctors already ask patients about smoking and alcohol consumption

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• Physical inactivity estimated to cost NHS £94 million a year

Doctors already routinely ask about smoking and alcohol consumption and will now do the same with physical activity.

As part of a year-long pilot, GPs and health professionals in six health board areas will encourage adults to get active, initially focusing on those with chronic ill health, long-term conditions and elderly people.

The boards taking on the pilot are Ayrshire & Arran, Borders, Grampian, Lothian, Tayside and Western Isles.

Physical inactivity is said to cost the NHS £94 million a year and contributes to nearly 2,500 premature deaths every year in Scotland. It can cause heart disease, stroke, obesity or depression, the Scottish Government said.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns recommends five periods of 30 minutes of moderate activity a week, or 60 minutes for children under 16.

Sport Minister Shona Robison said: “Getting active is easy, simple and the most effective way to better health, reducing the risk of a multitude of conditions like heart disease, obesity or depression. Any activity, like walking, gardening or cycling, is better than none and makes you feel happier, less stressed and more energised.

“This is not about telling people to take more exercise but health professionals offering advice to people who can get the most benefit, most quickly; ultimately reducing the need for further treatment and improving their lives.”

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John Gillies, chair of Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, said: “Increasing physical activity is a simple, cheap and highly effective way of both staying healthy if you are well and reducing the health risks of many chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

“It works at any age. RCGP Scotland is happy to support this initiative which will give GPs vital information on how to help patients increase activity and improve their health.”