Exercise - just what the doctor ordered

We all know that regular exercise plays a huge part in ensuring that we remain healthy and now a new GP Exercise Referral Programme, a physical activity initiative which aims to help adults get active, shows that exercise really is exactly what the doctor has ordered.

We all know that regular exercise plays a huge part in ensuring that we remain healthy and now a new GP Exercise Referral Programme, a physical activity initiative which aims to help adults get active, shows that exercise really is exactly what the doctor has ordered.

GPs in the area have been recruited by the HSE’s Health Promotion Service, and patients are now being directly referred from their GPs to the local leisure facilities as part of the Exercise Referral Programme.

Liz Martin, Health Promotion Officer, HSE West says; “Each patient is referred to a qualified Local Coordinator who guides them through a 12-week physical activity programme. The Local Coordinator offers behaviour change intervention, specialist advice about physical activity and disease as well as motivational support. Each patient is provided with an activity programme individually tailored for them that can be home, community or leisure facility-based or a combination of all three.

“The patient does not have to attend the leisure facility for activity sessions if they do not want to. Patients referred by their GPs pay for three assessments over the 12 week programme (€10-15 per assessment). If they choose a programme based in a leisure facility, then they will receive a 12 week membership at a discounted rate or a pay-as-you-go rate. By the end of the 12 weeks, the patient has developed the skills to independently maintain a physically active lifestyle.”

To ensure patient safety and the effectiveness of the programme, Leisure Professionals are required to obtain the ‘Local Coordinator Certificate’ awarded through successful completion of the GP Exercise Referral National Training Course. This course is the only qualification recognised by the HSE, Irish College of General Practitioners and ILAM and is compulsory for anyone wishing to deliver the programme.

Being physically active is one of the most important steps people of all ages can take to improve their health. If you are currently inactive and would like support in becoming more active, then ask your GP to refer you to one of the five local GP exercise referral coordinators.

GP Exercise referral local co-ordinators for Co Leitrim are: Leitrim Sports Partnership; Ballinamore Community area - Michelle Fanning (087) 9390980. Others locally include the Sligo Park Hotel - Clare Feerick (071) 9161053; Knocknarea Arena Sligo IT - Brian McMorrow (087) 7606968; Sligo Southern Hotel - John Daffy (086) 8662365 and Bundoran Seaweed Baths & Wellness Centre - Aisling Harris (087) 6824044.