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J R Soc Med. 1999 February; 92(2): 65–67.
PMCID: PMC1297062

Promoting physical activity in general practice: should prescribed exercise be free?

Abstract

In the UK there are numerous schemes whereby general practitioners can prescribe exercise programmes, usually based in leisure centres. Of the factors that discourage adherence to such programmes in the USA, cost has proved important. We collected demographic and questionnaire data from 152 inner-London patients (108 women, 44 men) before they started an exercise programme on a National Health Service prescription, and analysed the results according to whether they dropped out of the programme (78%) or not. Use of logistic regression revealed only one previous barrier to exercise, 'not knowing about local exercise facilities', as a significant positive determinant of adherence (adjusted odds ratio 3.51, 95% confidence interval, 1.04 to 11.86). For 'lack of money' patients were more likely to drop out of the programme (adjusted odds ratio 0.25, 95% CI 0.07-0.85). The very low cost of participation in this scheme, did not encourage adherence, particularly by those who had cited 'lack of money' as a previous barrier. The case of making prescribed exercise free or even low-cost remains unproven.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Dishman RK, Sallis JF, Orenstein DR. The determinants of physical activity and exercise. Public Health Rep. 1985 Mar-Apr;100(2):158–171. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Rowland L, Dickinson EJ, Newman P, Ford D, Ebrahim S. Look After Your Heart programme: impact on health status, exercise knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour of retired women in England. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1994 Apr;48(2):123–128. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press