Physical activity for those with a long term condition - advice for health professionals


‘Physical Activity benefits far outweigh the risks for people with long-term

health conditions’.

Sport England and The Faculty for Sport and Exercise Science recently released this statement and as a result Buckinghamshire Public Health Physical Activity Strategy Steering group are prioritising encouraging those with long term health conditions to move more.

One-in-three adults currently live with a long-term health condition and they are twice as likely to be among the least physically active groups.

1 in 2 patients in Buckinghamshire (52.8%) are living with a long term condition and 3 in 10 have multiple conditions. 80% of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and 40% of some cancers can be prevented and symptoms improved through regular movement and activity.

The benefits of physical activity for people living with long term conditions are well established. However, the fear of increasing symptoms or worsening long term problems commonly stops people from moving more. Many healthcare professionals also feel unsure about what advice they should give to people living with symptomatic medical conditions.

To help address concerns around risk, Moving Medicine led the development of a consensus statement to help us understand what safety advice healthcare professionals should give to people in clinical practice.

The five ‘impact statements’ that make up the consensus statement conclude that:

1. For people living with long term conditions, the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks and physical activity is safe, even for people living with symptoms of multiple long-term conditions.

2. Despite the risks of serious events being very low, perceived risk is high. We believe healthcare professionals and VCSE’s have a role to play in reducing patients' perception of risks.

3. It is not as easy as just telling someone to move more; person-centred conversations are essential for addressing perceived risk. You can utilise the local social prescribing link workers, health coaches and/or care co-ordinators, to have healthy conversations.

4. Everybody has their own starting point. It is recommended that those living with a long term condition start slowly and build up gradually.

5. People should stop and seek medical attention if they experience a dramatic increase or change in symptoms.

Download this infographic summarising what healthcare professionals should know before giving advice about risk to people living with long term conditions.

Read the consensus statement around risk that has been peer reviewed and published by theBritish Journal of Sports Medicine and start having conversations about regular movement and activity with patients today.

Physical activity for those with a long term condition - advice for health professionals