The benefits of physical activity for people living with long term conditions are well established. However, the fear of increasing symptoms or worsening long term problems commonly stops people from moving more. Many healthcare professionals also feel unsure about what advice they should give to people living with symptomatic medical conditions.
To help address theseconcerns around risk, Moving Medicine led the development of a consensus statement to help clarify what safety advice healthcare professionals should give to patients. Here are their main takeaways:
- Physical activity is safe, even for people living with symptoms of multiple long-term conditions. Regular physical activity, in combination with standard medical care, has an important role in the management and prevention of many long-term conditions.
- People with long-term conditions are often fearful of worsening their condition or experiencing potentially undesired consequences from physical activity. In fact, when physical activity levels are increased gradually, the risk of serious adverse events is very low. Well informed, person-centred conversations with healthcare professionals can reassure people and further reduce this risk.
- Successful opportunistic brief advice helps build motivation and confidence to become more physically active. This can be consolidated at further healthcare visits to support lasting behaviour change. Advice from healthcare professionals should consider the concerns of individuals and/or their carers, as well as individual preference, symptoms, functional capacity, psychosocial factors, social support, and environmental considerations.
- Everyone has their own starting point, depending on their current activity level. Help people identify where they are and agree a plan to begin there and build up gradually to minimise the risk of adverse events.
- Advise people to stop and seek medical review if they experience a dramatic increase in breathlessness, new or worsening chest pain and/or increasing glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) requirement, a sudden onset of rapid palpitations or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, a reduction in exercise capacity or sudden change in vision.
Condition specific considerations have also been identified. These considerations cover cardiac chest pain, cognitive impairment, dysglycaemia, falls and frailty, fatigue, MSK pain, palpitations and shortness of breath.
To help healthcare professionals in Dorset promote the risk consensus statement, we have collated an infographic and one page resource that can be downloaded and shared with colleagues.