Earlier this year, ukactive released a new report, Leading the Change, looking at the impact of social prescribing within the health, fitness, and leisure sector. Social prescribing is a non-medical referral pathway that links people with a range of community support to promote improvements in their health and well-being.
We know the major role physical activity plays in reducing the burden on healthcare and social care services. Specifically, locally, the ever-increasing pressures on the NHS—the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
We want to expand awareness on the impact health and fitness has on public health, fulfill our industry’s potential and our shared ambition for growth.
ukactive’s growth modeling predicts that—with supportive measures from the government—gym, swimming pool, and leisure center membership in the U.K. could rise to 20% of the population by 2030. That’s a 5% increase from 2019 levels, and equals more than five million additional members. This growth represents an opportunity to make an even greater contribution to our collective wellness. As such, there is clearly a growing movement behind social prescribing, another area where our sector has so much to offer.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, there is now a focus on personalized care—providing people with choice and control over the support they receive based on what matters to them. Within this plan sits social prescribing.
Social Prescribing Goes Hand in Hand With the Health, Fitness, & Leisure Sector
Social prescribing aims to support people who have a range of social, emotional, or practical needs, with initiatives often focused on improving physical and mental health. Meanwhile, across the health, fitness, and leisure sector, a host of physical activity-based initiatives already support such health and well-being improvements. These include specific and structured interventions such as exercise referral and fall prevention, as well as signposting to other relevant physical activities, arts, and cultural activities.
Although some of these interventions, such as exercise referral, have been in existence for some time and may differ from the specific goals of social prescribing, they all aim to improve the health and well-being of participants and, therefore, have a part to play in social prescribing.