Physical activity in patient care

Sedentary lifestyles may be responsible for as many as one third of the deaths attributable to coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. Research has shown that physical activity protects against the onset of diseases such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and colon cancer.

One method of reaching large numbers of the population and increasing physical activity levels is through the general practice setting. Strategies whereby patients can be referred locally for health evaluation and exercise prescription offer great potential to support GPs to improve population health.

One such program is the GP Exercise Referral Scheme (GPERS), specifically designed for people referred by a GP or health professional to prevent or manage certain medical conditions. Commencing at the Sutherland Shire Leisure Centres in 2004, GPERS has successfully serviced more than 3,800 patients. Today, it continues to provide a pathway to incorporate safe and effective exercise options into patient care within a trusted community based setting.

Under the scheme all patients consult an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) to determine their functional capacity and the appropriate exercise prescription for them. Patient programs can be gymnasium and/or pool based and can include individual and/or group exercise. Either way, patients can complete their program in the Sutherland Shire Leisure Centres’ controlled and supervised environment. Patients have 10 exercise sessions generally in five weeks. At the completion of the program each patient is re-evaluated by their AEP who will recommend the best post-program option for maintaining regular physical behaviours. Referring doctors also receive a patient status report from the AEP.

The program has been well received by local GPs with a large proportion indicating that having it available increased the frequency with which they encouraged their patients to undertake regular physical activity.

For more information regarding the GPERS or other Exercise Physiology services in Sutherland Shire Council Leisure Centres, please contact:

Luke Ursino
Accredited Exercise Physiologist ESSAM, AEP, AES
Sutherland Shire Council Leisure Centres
Phone: 8536 9706

More details about GPERS are available on our website.

CESPHN is planning to expand GPERS in Canterbury. Please contact Chris Leung on 9330 9956 or if you are interested in GPERS in your area. Online survey is also available.