New research shows “exercise on prescription” works

A New Zealand study by Dr Beverley Lawton and colleagues, from the University of Otago, Wellington, has been published today in the British Medical Journal. Results show that exercise on prescription increases physical activity and quality of life. It is recommended that this should become part of a wider population strategy to promote exercise.

This large randomised controlled trial looked at the effects of “prescribing” exercise on the health of 1089 less-active women, aged 40-74, over a two-year period. The trial used an augmented “Green Prescription” and involved an initial nurse consultation and telephone support over nine months to help women become more physically active, as well as a follow-up check with the primary care nurse.

Participants completed self-report questionnaires about physical activity and quality of life and had their weight, blood pressure and fasting bloods measured at regular intervals. The results show that, after 12 months, the number of women engaged in moderate physical activity (30 minutes for five or more days of the week) increased from 10 per cent to 42 per cent of the intervention group; and, after two years, 39 per cent were still achieving this goal. 

The study is available on the BMJ website.