Next review: To be scheduled

This guideline makes recommendations on exercise referral schemes to promote physical activity for people aged 19 and older. It updates and replaces recommendation 5 in four commonly used methods to increase physical activity (2006) NICE guideline PH2.

It focuses on exercise referral schemes that try to increase physical activity among people who are inactive or sedentary and are otherwise healthy or who have an existing health condition or other risk factors for disease.

The guideline is for primary care practitioners and policy makers, commissioners and other practitioners with physical activity as part of their remit working in local authorities and the NHS.

In addition, it may be of relevance to providers of exercise referral schemes, organisations that provide exercise qualifications and accreditation and members of the public.

This guideline does not cover structured exercise programmes designed for managing a specific health condition or for rehabilitation following recovery from a specific condition. This includes cancer, cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.

This guideline was previously called exercise and referral schemes to promote physical activity.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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