Doctors in England and Wales should offer overweight patients “green space” prescriptions to get them exercising outdoors, says the Local Government Association.
The prescriptions could provide free visits to national parks or horticulture sessions at National Trust properties, for example.
A small number of GPs already do this.
The LGA says it needs to become universal policy to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.
It’s calling on NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to drive the initiative forward.
In Dorset , physicians already prescribe walkings, conservation work, horticulture and sail.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has developed an IT system which links up GPs with leisure centres so that they are able to book patients immediately on to workout schemes.
The LGA, which took on persons responsible for public health under the recent NHS shake-up, says workout prescriptions would encourage people to be more active, lose weight and keep fit.
Spokeswoman Izzi Seccombe said: “There are some instances where rather than prescribing a pill, advising on some type of moderate physical activity outdoors could be far more beneficial to the patient.
“There are already some good example where this is being piloted in the UK and it is something we should consider on a nationwide basis.”
The Royal College of General Practitioners told any decision to invest in social prescribing schemes, and roll them out more widely, must not be an alternative to investing in general practice services.
Spokesman Dr Steve Mowle told: “Social prescribing schemes can definitely be beneficial to a patient’s overall health and wellbeing – as some pilots have shown – but to be effective, there needs to be better integration between health and community service, so that GPs and our teams can signpost our patients most appropriately.”
One in four women and one in five men in England do less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week – way below the recommended quantity of 150 minutes per week.
Physical activity can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and cancers, including some cancers, heart disease, kind 2 diabetes and depression.
People who do regular physical activity have 😛 TAGEND up to a 35% lower danger of coronary heart disease and stroke up to a 50% lower danger of kind 2 diabetes up to a 50% lower danger of colon cancer up to a 20% lower danger of breast cancer a 30% lower danger of early death up to an 83% lower danger of osteoarthritis up to a 68% lower danger of hip fracture a 30% lower danger of autumns( among older adults) up to a 30% lower danger of depression up to a 30% lower danger of dementia