Doctors will soon prescribe walking and cycling to patients in the UK

What do you reckon?

Young woman walking with bicycle, with reusable coffee cup in hand
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What do you reckon?

In health news today, doctors in England are set to prescribe forms of physical activity.

Movement such as walking or cycling will be "socially prescribed" in an attempt to boost the nation's health.

The move comes as government officials continue to attempt to ease the current strain on the NHS.

You'll likely know about the many benefits of walking and how mindful movement can boost both your physical and mental health but now, a government scheme will be actively aiming to make both a part of your daily lifestyle.

Rolling out across eleven parts of England - Bath and North East Somerset, Bradford, Cornwall, Cumbria, Doncaster, Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Staffordshire - the pilot scheme will prescribe cycle training, free bike loans, walking clubs, and exercise classes for wheelchair or mobility scooter users.

The government was awarded £12.7 million to fund the scheme, which is set to conclude in 2025. They're hoping to see both reduced GP appointments and reliance on medication as a result.

While the scheme could be a great way to show people that, while we're tackling a cost of living crisis, working out doesn't have to mean gym memberships and expensive kit. Far from it - often the best forms of exercise and keeping active are free (think walking, stretching, and running).

That said, several Twitter users have pointed out problems with the scheme. Some are worried that expending even more calories at a time when people are struggling to afford to eat may not be wise.

Dom on Twitter said, "GP’s “prescribing” walking and cycling will not change health disparities in the U.K. When I go out on my bike I worry if I can afford the calories I’m burning off - I can cycle your daily allowance of calories = another day’s worth of food on my bills."

A woman going for a walk in the woods

Others have also mocked the move, with Twitter user Le Plonge saying: "Surely people can go for a walk without needing a GP to tell them?".

But Minister for Health Maria Caulfield is backing the plan, and shares that movement is key for boosting both your physical and mental wellbeing - not to mention ease strain on the NHS. "Getting active is hugely beneficial for both our mental and physical health, helping reduce stress and ward off other illnesses such as heart disease and obesity.

What do you reckon?

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.