New pilot project aims to get Borderers active to improve their health

NHS Borders is one of six Scottish health boards taking up the challenge of getting patients healthier by highlighting the benefits of physical activity.

GPs and health professionals in the six health board areas will promote the ‘brief interventions’ by encouraging adults to get active in a bid to tackle a range of health problems, as physical inactivity contributes to nearly 2,500 premature deaths every year in Scotland and can cause heart disease, stroke, obesity or depression and costs the NHS in Scotland £94 million a year.

In the Borders it will be the NHS Borders Lifestyle Advisory Service that will be at the fore-front of the year long ‘getting active’ campaign in the region.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns recommends five periods of 30 minutes of moderate activity a week, 60 minutes for children under 16.

Sports Minister Shona Robison said: “Getting active is easy, simple and the most effective way to better health, reducing the risk of a multitude of conditions like heart disease, obesity or depression. Any activity is better than none and makes you feel happier, less stressed and more energised.

“This is not about telling people to take more exercise, but health professionals offering advice to people who can get the most benefit, most quickly, ultimately reducing the need for further treatment and improving their lives.”

Dr David White, the Scottish Government’s physical activity specialist, said: “Regular physical activity really is man’s best medicine, providing a far greater range of health benefits than any medication. It’s been shown internationally that GPs and their teams offering accurate assessment alongside appropriate advice or brief intervention is both cost - and clinically-effective in helping patients become more active. The National Physical Activity Pathway, developed by NHS Health Scotland along with GPs, is a simple and effective resource to make a real difference.”

Margaret Burns, chair, NHS Health Scotland, said: “We know that three in five adults are not physically active enough to benefit their health and that getting active will increase life expectancy by almost a year. The cost to the NHS in Scotland alone of certain diseases resulting from physical inactivity is around £94 million every year and across the cost to the Scottish economy as a whole, far, far greater. That is why NHS Health Scotland, and partners are supporting staff to motivate people to get active in their own way. The learning from the pilots will then be used to inform NHS practice across the country.”