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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > February 2019 > Could you swap your MEDICATION for TRAINERS?

Could you swap your MEDICATION for TRAINERS?

The new buzz phrase in medical circles is ‘social prescribing’, aka a doctor’s recommendation to move more. Could you be a candidate for this simple, non-drug approach to healing?asks Peta Bee

VISIT YOUR GP ABOUT AN AILMENT and you may be surprised if the prescription he or she issues turns out to be for walking, golfing or swimming rather than cholesterollowering drugs or antidepressants. If back pain has been troubling you, the advice might be to join a gym or to take up tai chi; if you’re struggling with anxiety or low mood, a regular run could well be the recommended tonic.

This new approach is part of health secretary Matt Hancock’s plans to transform the NHS. As an advocate of what he calls ‘social prescribing’, the Minister suggests healthy activities – from gardening and yoga to running and tennis – are ‘more effective than medicines for some people’. He claims a move towards a more active lifestyle could offset the need for drugs altogether in some cases. As a result, activities as diverse as boxing, Bollywood dancing, meditation and mindfulness are being prescribed by GPs for patients who might previously have been given a prescription for long-term, costly medication.

A game changer

Sceptical? There’s plenty of evidence that it works. Last year researchers revealed that social prescribing could reduce the burden on the NHS by helping to cut A&E visits by a quarter and reducing GP appointments. Currently, 37 GP practices and medical centres in the London Borough of Croydon are using the approach as part of a trial. After 18 months, some of these have already reported a 20% reduction in hospital outpatient referrals and a 4% drop in emergency hospital admissions.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Improve your gut health with our top 10 dietitian tips, plus gut-friendly recipes. Get the latest on low-carb diets for diabetes, and find out why your doctor could prescribe ditching the pills in favour of exercise. We celebrate Chinese New Year with super-quick veggie recipes and give you a taste of gut-calming low-FODMAP meals. And don’t miss the chance to win a foodie glamping weekend at Valley Fest!