Physical activity referral programmes for people with health conditions
We work in partnership with a variety of organisations across the city to enable leisure centres and community sports organisations to deliver various sport and exercise programmes for people with health conditions.
These aim to increase individuals’ Physical Activity Levels. Department of Health Guidelines are to achieve 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week (increased heart rate, breathing faster, bit hotter, slightly breathless), typically as 30 minutes on 5 days a week.
Increased physical activity can improve Quality of Life through reducing stress levels, improving strength and cardiovascular fitness; making everyday life more enjoyable and achievable. Exercise also reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers, and can help individuals with health issues to manage the symptoms of their illnesses.
Being inactive can cause many issues including difficulties with weight control, increasing risk of cardiovascular disease, decreased range of movement and strength, making everyday tasks harder.
Physical activity programmes available are:
- Physical activity scheme for those with low to medium risk health conditions
- Bristol Active Life Project for people who have experienced or are living with a long-term mental illness
- Cardiac Rehab Phase 4 Healthy Hearts for people who have, or have had angina, cardiac surgery, a stent fitted or coronary heart disease (CHD), are clinically stable, and have no contraindications to exercise.
- Better Breathing for people with breathing difficulty, most commonly COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and have completed a pulmonary rehabilitation course
- Life Balance: Exercise Referral Programme for people with MS or Parkinson’s.
- Energise (Cancer) Referral Programme for people who have completed cancer treatments.
- Parkinson’s/ Stroke Referral Programme for people with Parkinson’s or who have suffered a stroke.
- Dementia Friendly Swimming: swimming sessions for people with dementia.
Who are the schemes for?
- Be aged 16 years or over
- Be Inactive: taking part in less than 90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week
- Have a stable medical condition, and your health professional must feel that you can benefit from regular participation in physical activity
- Be committed to attend your scheme regularly each week (twice per week for Exercise Referral).
- Visit your health professional after 12 weeks to discuss the effect of the scheme on your health and physical activity levels and your next steps moving forwards.
- Attend health-checks/ follow-ups as requested by instructors, and feedback any changes in your condition or exercise experience
- You must be referred by a health professional who has access to your medical notes
Which programme is suitable?
- Schemes which are supervised by qualified Exercise Referral Instructors are able to accept those with Low & Medium Risk conditions only.
- Those with High Risk conditions can only be accepted onto Specific programmes supervised by instructors who have undertaken specific additional training.
Low and Medium Risk Conditions:
- Overweight/ Obese/ Underweight (with no other medical condition)
- High normal blood pressure (130-139 / 85-89)
- Type II diabetes (diet controlled)
- Raised cholesterol
- Stress, mild anxiety
- Mild/moderate depression
- Mild skeletal and muscular injuries
- Hypertension stage 2 and below (<180 systolic or <100 diastolic)
- Type II diabetes (medication controlled)
- Type I diabetes (with adequate instructions regarding modification of insulin dosage depending on timing of exercise and warning signs)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Back care
High Risk Conditions:
- Phase 3 & 4 Cardiac Rehabilitation – see Healthy Hearts page for more information
- Cancer – see Energise page for more information
- Hypertension: Systolic 160 and above - Diastolic 100 and above
- Unstable angina
- Acute heart failure
- Palliative care
- Pregnancy - Free swims available at Bristol City Council Leisure Centres
- Acute respiratory disease
Stages of Change
Everybody has a different willingness to take part in physical activity. Those who benefit most from the programme are those who are ‘Ready’ to take part. If an individual is not at this level it can be detrimental to their future participation to sign them up to a scheme that they are not interested in taking part in, and also take the place of someone else who is keen to start. (Currently only 50% of those who are referred to the Exercise Referral Scheme START the scheme.)
Check where you/your patient is in the Stages of Change (pdf, 70 KB) (opens new window) (pdf, 70k) (opens new window) chart. If they are ‘Precontemplation’ or ‘Contemplation’ some additional discussion and time are requested to move the patient towards Preparation before they are referred.
Making a referral
Referral instructions can be found on each of the scheme pages.