Cumbrian GPs will start prescribing walking and cycling as part of a nationwide trial to improve mental and physical wellbeing across the UK.
Yesterday it was announced that £12.7 million has been given to 11 local authorities by the Department for Transport to fund pilot social prescriptions and projects such as adult cycle training, free bike loans and walking groups.
The GP prescription will also include wheeling for wheelchair or mobility scooter users, the department said.
The pilots will start this year running until 2025 in Cumbria, Bath and North East Somerset, Bradford, Cornwall, Doncaster, Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Suffolk and Staffordshire. The aim is to evaluate the impact these activities have on individuals seeing if reduced GP appointments and reliance on medication are affected.
Walking and Cycling minister Trudy Harrison said the activities have “so many benefits – from improving air quality in our communities to reducing congestion on our busiest streets”.
“It also has an enormous positive impact on physical and mental health, which is why we have funded these projects which will get people across the country moving and ease the burden on our NHS,” she said.
Chris Boardman, the commissioner of National Active Travel, an executive agency being set up by the Government to improve the standards of the UK’s cycling and walking infrastructure, said: “As a nation we need healthier, cheaper and more pleasant ways to get around for everyday trips.
Adding “Moving more will lead to a healthier nation, a reduced burden on the NHS, less cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as huge cost savings. This trial aims to build on existing evidence to show how bringing transport, active travel and health together can make a positive impact on communities across England.”
Minister for Health, Maria Caulfield, said: “Getting active is hugely beneficial for both our mental and physical health, helping reduce stress and ward off other illness such as heart disease and obesity. The UK is leading the way in embedding social prescribing in our NHS and communities across the country.”