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Doctors could prescribe exercise

The idea of prescribed and reimbursed sport is being studied, as national sport and wellbeing days get under way

EXERCISE could become available on prescription, in a bid to cut the costs to the healthcare system of treating illness linked to being unfit.

The idea is supported by the Health Ministry and the Comité National Olympique et Sportif (CNOSF), who are running national “Sport-Health-Wellbeing” days this week, starting today.

Sports Minister Valérie Fourneyron, who is a sports doctor, says the benefits of sport on prescription (and state-reimbursed) have “largely been proven”.

“It’s a question of the right dose,” she said. “If you overtrain you get pathologies linked to overuse, but when there is no activity there are risks linked to sedentariness, responsible for 15% of deaths.”

A body promoting the use of sport and fitness for health, Imaps, says people who are active spend on average €250 less per year on healthcare than those who are not. It says that funding fitness programmes, at an appropriate level, can lead to savings for the state.

It estimates that €150 per year for a suitable activity for 10% of people diagnosed with long-term illnesses would mean €56million in savings for social security because of reduced medical treatments.

The various federations of the CNOSF are going to set up committees to study the benefits of each kind of sport, said the agency’s head, Alain Calmat, a former sports minister.

He said the aim would be to help doctors work out what kind of sport would be best-suited to patients with certain kinds of illness. Specific working groups have been set up on sport and cancer, obesity, cardio-vascular illness and ageing.

The “Sport-Health-Wellbeing” days are the third such initiative, and will involve taster sessions in different kinds of sports, in schools and higher education, the workplace and – this weekend - for the general public. The aim is to encourage people of all ages and abilities (including disabled people) to consider new ways of keeping active.

Ms Fourneyron is in Versailles today launching the initiative.

To find events near you see: Sport-Health-Wellbeing
Photo: LocalFitness.com.au

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