Delivery Approaches Within Exercise Referral Schemes: A Survey of Current Practice in England

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Exercise referral schemes in England offer referred participants an opportunity to take part in an exercise prescription in a nonclinical environment. The aim of these schemes is to effect clinical health benefits, yet there is limited evidence of schemes’ effectiveness, which could be due to the heterogeneity in design, implementation, and evaluation. Additionally, there has been no concerted effort to map program characteristics. Objective: To understand what key delivery approaches are currently used within exercise referral schemes in England. Methods: Across England, a total of 30 schemes with a combined total of 85,259 exercise referral scheme participants completed a Consensus on Exercise Reporting Template-guided questionnaire. The questionnaire explored program delivery, nonexercise components, and program management. Results: Results found that program delivery varied, though many schemes were typically 12 weeks in length, offering participants 2 exercise sessions in a fitness gym or studio per week, using a combination of exercises. Adherence was typically measured through attendance, with nonexercise components and program management varying by scheme. Conclusion: This research provides a snapshot of current delivery approaches and supports the development of a large-scale mapping exercise to review further schemes across the whole of the United Kingdom in order to provide evidence of best practice and delivery approaches nationwide.

Rowley and Horton are with Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom. Steele is with the ukactive Research Institute, London, United Kingdom; and Solent University, Southampton, United Kingdom. Mann is with Places for People Leisure, London, United Kingdom. Jimenez is with the GO fit LAB, Ingesport, Madrid, Spain.

Rowley (ac2894@coventry.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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