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The NHS last week announced plans to offer personal trainers and exercise classes to tackle Type 2 Diabetes head on. Plans are being put in place to offer exercise sessions and lifestyle education to up to 100,000 patients per year by 2020 as part of the world’s first nationwide Diabetes Prevention Programme. Over nine months, patients will receive at least 13 education and exercise sessions of one to two hours per session – making at least 16 hours of one to one time in total.

Jenny Patrickson, Active IQ MD was immediately called upon to give her thoughts on this ground-breaking initiative and here’s what she said to Health Club Management:

“Firstly, it is very good to hear that there is recognition for the role that PTs and exercise professionals have to play in the promotion of physical activity and the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. This is an important and exciting milestone for our sector demonstrating a proactive example of how the medical profession can work in synergy with exercise professionals to positively affect exercise and eating behaviours.

Having said all that, I do have some concerns about the reference to PTs and exercise classes, as PT sessions and exercise classes are often provided by a different level of instructor e.g. Level 3 qualified PTs and Level 2 qualified class instructors. It therefore raises a question as to what level of exercise professional is best placed to work with these referred individuals. It could also be argued that a higher level specialist qualification, such as a Level 4 specialist qualification in physical activity and weight management for obese and diabetic clients, should be an additional requirement for exercise professionals working with individuals to reduce obesity and high blood sugar levels.

The reference to high intensity training also raises some concerns in terms of whether HIIT sessions are the most appropriate means by which to introduce individuals to physical activity and whether that modality will motivate them to adhere to an exercise programme. That said, this is definite progress and providing PTs and exercise professionals continue to develop their own knowledge and skills for dealing with target groups such as this, and providing our sector’s employers support them to do this, then we have a real opportunity to reverse the growth of individuals classed as obese and reverse the growing trend of Type 2 Diabetes within our society.”

Public health delivery is becoming an increasingly important focus for the physical activity sector, with the chance to become a frontline public health delivery partner having previously been identified as an £8bn opportunity for the industry.

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