Exercise Referral – health-related fitness

Exercise referral is a qualification specialising in health-related fitness. Many GP’s and health professionals are now prescribing exercise, as well as or in many cases instead of, medication. Referrals are then made and passed on to specialist exercise referral fitness professionals, who then devise tailored exercise programmes specific to an individual’s needs.

The benefits of exercise are profound, it’s acknowledged that there is a positive relationship between exercise and the reduction in developing chronic diseases and supporting living and coping with existing conditions. People of all ages can benefit from improved health and quality of life by taking part in regular physical activity, which in turn can help reduce the risk of major chronic diseases, such as:

Cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease: Physical activity at an appropriate intensity helps reduces the risk and can slow down the progression of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. It helps to improve the function of your heart and circulatory system.

High cholesterol: Physical activity and exercise has a positive effect on lowering total cholesterol; high cholesterol is a major factor for developing angina and heart disease. Exercise helps to increase your levels of good cholesterol.

High blood pressure: There are many factors that can contribute to elevated blood pressure such as high BMI, obesity, poor diet and inactivity. Physical activity will improve circulatory health which will help to lower blood pressure.

Strokes and neurological conditions: Physical inactivity is a risk factor for strokes, exercising can help prevent stokes. Aerobic exercise has been found to promote cognitive recovery in stroke survivors and increase blood flow to the brain. Exercise can help prevent neurological conditions and support people living with existing conditions, it also helps improve memory, which is something we could all do with! 

Diabetes type 1 & 2: Physically active people are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, exercise can help people living with type 2 diabetes manage the condition and avoid further health complications. Insulin dependent diabetics will benefit from exercise as it makes insulin more effective.

Mental health and well-being: There’s a strong link with being physically active and having good mental well-being, exercise releases the bodies endorphins that naturally make you feel better. Exercise can increase self-esteem, increase your energy levels and positively change your mood. Exercise can help us cope better with life’s stresses.

Obesity: Obesity puts people at increased risk of developing chronic diseases. Exercise can help with weight management and reduce these risks. Excessive body fat puts stress on the body’s internal organs, bones and joint structures. Exercising helps decrease body fat, burns calories and helps increase your self-control, which will help you implement and adhere to long-term change.

Arthritis and osteoporosis: Exercise promotes production of synovial fluid which will help lubricate your joints. Exercise also helps reduce pain and stiffness in the joints and increase flexibility and range of movement. As we age our bones can become weak and decrease in density, exercise can help decrease muscle wastage. Resistance exercise will help strengthen at risk sites, improving strength, balance and posture which will help prevent falls in later life.

Top tips to make a change:  

  • Aim to spend less time sedentary – sit less and move more!
  • Stay as physically active as you can
  • Stay socially active with friends, family and within your community
  • Get regular check-ups to ensure everything is running as it should, you might catch problems before they take hold
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet and stay hydrated
  • Get the correct amount of sleep your body needs
  • Make small manageable changes, gradually increasing activity levels

Take care

Taking care of yourself is crucial! Be active, live well, do what you can to minimise risks of chronic diseases, and exercise to help manage and improve existing conditions. Government guidelines say we should be doing 150 minutes of exercise per week to include cardiovascular exercise, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility. A good way to approach this is to do 30 minutes of activity 5 times per week.

There are lots of exercise referral schemes across Manchester, most local authorities run these schemes. I specialise in this area of exercise and offer this service in personal training; alongside work I do for a number of referral schemes. If you have a health-related condition and feel this is something you could benefit from, speak to your GP and get in touch for more information – click this link to head over to my exercise referral PT page to find out more about specilist PT services.

Ruth x


Useful Information

The British Heart Foundation is my go-to website, it has excellent free advice and information on a variety of conditions bhf.org.uk.