In the last 50 years, people have gone from largely physical jobs to those at office desks, which means fitness must be a choice we all make rather than just a side effect of the jobs we do.
For medical professionals, prescribing fitness in all forms has become common for all manner of illnesses. Doctors regularly prescribed fitness as a long-term solution for obesity and rehabilitation from cardiac, pulmonary, and musculoskeletal conditions. What’s important is how the fitness sector can use social prescribing to prove how their programmes benefit communities. Not just in their current format but go further to produce outcomes and relieve some of the burdens of medical professionals for knowing what’s best. Basically, put the solutions in the hands of those who know fitness, coaching and activities.
So why is social prescribing so important to the fitness and activity sectors?
Social prescribing is the mechanism that allows doctors, health, and care professionals to refer people to fitness facilities to reduce the pressures on the health service. With cases of COVID-19 still present, and rehabilitation through long COVID still a factor, increasing the resilience and recovery of the nation has no end of benefits.
Despite encompassing 66% of the nation’s cancer prehabilitation and rehabilitation services, there is still some way to go when it comes to preventative health. ukactive’s report Leading the Change: social prescribing within the fitness and leisure sector points out how well sports facilities can serve people and communities through social prescribing.
What does the report say?
The report structures itself around facilities with an opportunity to integrate public physical activity initiatives. The idea is that with long-term conditions, the visibility of gyms, pools, and leisure centers in communities are brilliant places to start managing their treatment. Best of all, these can be used in tandem with national, local, or even commercial initiatives- any place that can offer the best direction.
Giving the physical activity workforce a better understanding and training of the social prescribing structure is one of the key areas of the recommendations. It means freeing up time for medical professionals where the sector can move in and give advice. It can also mean reducing the amount of medication offered for mild cases.
For coaching companies, anything from planning physical activity for kids at risk of obesity or suffering from mental health issues to providing long-term rehabilitation from serious medical conditions can be included.
What options does the sector have?
Progress has already been made, with social prescribing used for some of the more minor cases of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Using fitness to lessen the load for healthcare is just one step in the right direction for using fitness proactively.
We’re not out of the woods where COVID-19 is concerned which means the focus of reports of this nature will be on rehabilitation and prevention. Since there isn’t much sign of COVID-19
, being short-term, it’s up to the sector to use the results to springboard into other areas of healthcare. It, therefore, creates enormous potential for training in coaching methodology and administrative measures to help communities navigate their way successfully to healthier lives.
The healthier their lives become, the better indication that the sector can handle even more responsibility.