Exercise referral schemes in primary care are not proving as effective as promised, according to an analysis published today.
Participants failed to achieve clinically meaningful improvements in their cardiovascular risk factors, according to the report in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The findings come from a study of 23,000 participants, taking part in 13 different schemes lasting between six weeks and three months.
According to the study, participants achieved significant improvements in many measures of health, including weight, mental health and quality of life.But there were no improvements in resting heart rate or in diastolic blood pressure.
The researchers, led by Dr James Steele, of the Ukactive Research Institute, London, say: “The evidence presented here from one of the largest databases does little to support the use of them, broadly speaking.
“These findings support the need to consider exercise referral schemes, particularly their implementation, more critically, using real world data to understand how best to maximise their potential, particularly considering the known benefits of exercise and the research across the UK.”