Stockholm doctors prefer to prescribe exercise

Doctors in Stockholm are increasingly prescribing exercise in place of medication, according to a review by Stockholm’s county council health board, a trend which is likely to continue.

General practitioners are giving Stockholmers clear and simple advice more regularly than ever – to do more exercise.

3,024 prescriptions for physical activity were given by doctors in 2008, whereas last year the number shot up to 12,075, according to a statement from the health board.

The figure has even doubled in the last year.

“There is no doubt that physical activity has clear medicinal effects. It’s equally obvious to prescribe exercise as it is to prescribe drugs,” said Birgitta Rydberg of the Stockholm county council health board to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

But GPs are only recommending activity to a third of the Stockholmers who need it, according to Rydberg, who says that exercising does not necessarily mean sweating it out with heavy weights all day.

“It can be anything from a 30 minute walk each day to just joining the local gym and doing some light aerobics,” she told the paper.

Some 30 percent of Sweden’s work force exercise at least twice a week, but at the same time 20 percent are quite inactive, especially young men and women, according to the findings.

Rydberg points out that the younger population tend to rely more on remote controls and elevators, when making simple choices such as taking the stairs can make significant differences.

Rydberg predicts that prescriptions of exercise will continue to rise dramatically.

“We’re going to need to develop this much more over the coming years. We’ll not only see a minimized use of drugs, but it will be cheaper too,” Rydberg told DN.

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