Observing key characteristics of exercise referral schemes in the United Kingdom - Delivery approaches currently used in England.

Nikita Rowley, James Steele , Steve Mann, Gary Liguori , Alfonso Jimenez, Elizabeth Horton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding


Exercise referral schemes (ERSs) within the United Kingdom (UK) offer individuals an opportunity to take part in an exercise prescription in a non-clinical environment, yet gain clinical health benefits. ERSs at present are heterogeneous in design, implementation, and evaluation; hence limited evidence of their effectiveness exists. Additionally, there has been no concerted
effort to map program characteristics until very recently.
PURPOSE: To understand key characteristics of ERSs and observe how schemes are currently designed, delivered, and evaluated across the UK.
METHODS: Across the UK, a total of 29 schemes with 73,000 patients were asked to complete a Consensus on Exercise Reporting Template (CERT)-guided questionnaire. The questionnaire evaluated exercise provider‘s qualifications, materials, delivery, location, tailoring, dosage, and compliance. Data collected were used solely for observations of scheme characteristics across
the UK at the present time.
323RESULTS: Schemes were typically 12 weeks in length (76%), offered patients two unsupervised exercise sessions in fitness gyms per week (79%), and used a combination of cardiovascular, resistance, free weights, and body weight exercises. Determining progression for resistance exercises was based upon the number of reps and sets completed (76%); for cardiovascular exercises
progression was based upon the rating of perceived effort (38%); and for other exercises progression was based upon performance (45%). Just over half of schemes offered a variety of home based exercise components (52%), whether it was just advice or a full exercise programme. Adherence was typically measured through attendance (55%). Common motivational strategies used
were goal setting (72%), goal achievement (69%), and acknowledgement of success (62%).
CONCLUSION: This research provides useful insights of schemes‘ characteristics across England and Scotland. This evidence can support the development of a larger-scale mapping exercise to review further schemes across the whole of the UK, which to date has been lacking. This research has also been insightful in providing initial evidence of what schemes offer and potentially how they can be improved over time
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
PublisherAmerican College of Sports Medicine
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
EventACSM Conference 2020 - Virtual
Duration: 26 May 202030 May 2020


ConferenceACSM Conference 2020

Bibliographical note

Free to access via publisher website, poster.
Event 27th May 2020


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