As part of the Government’s Let’s Get Moving campaign, GPs are to be encouraged to write out detailed programmes, with a weekly plan of activities such as gym sessions, evening sports classes and weekend team events.
Elderly and less active patients will be steered towards walking groups, yoga sessions in community centres or even ballroom dancing lessons.
Follow-up appointments will be made with doctors or nurses based in GP practices to ensure that patients are sticking to their prescribed plans.
Those who struggle to keep up will be given tips and advice on sticking to a fitness regime, or may be offered alternative suggestions for exercises and activities more suited to their lifestyle.
GPs will also be helped to develop links with nearby private gyms, council sport centres and local exercise clubs, so that they can refer patients to fitness instructors who will be able to design tailor-made programmes.
To ensure that patients of all incomes are able to access sporting facilities, extra funds will be given to local authorities.
These proposals were announced by Health Secretary Andy Burnham who also gave details of a cash boost for local councils to roll out the programme of free swimming sessions, which are currently available to pensioners and the under-18s.
The move is part of the government’s drive against obesity, which has been described as a health “time bomb”. More than two-thirds of men and six out of every 10 women are thought to be putting their health at risk as a result of overeating, and it is estimated that obesity will cost Britain £50 billion by 2050.
In the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, a series of campaigns are being launched to encourage people of all ages to get fit. Schoolchildren will have a set minimum number of hours to devote to sport each week.
More than half of Britons take no regular exercise, compared to just 13 per cent of Dutch people, and this country is in 22nd place in a league table of physical education in developed nations.
Source: Daily Telegraph