Exercise, at the heart of physiotherapy? #physiotalk 12th Jan 2015

Our first physiotalk twitter chat of 2015 will be co-hosted by Anna Lowe (@annalowephysio) & Rachael Young (@physioyoung) on Monday 12th January 8pm (GMT).

exerciseExercise has been identified as a means of preventing and managing many chronic conditions including LBP, Diabetes, mental health issues, chronic pain and many, many more. Physiotherapists have been identified as having a key role in prescribing exercise and physical activity interventions particularly with people who have long-term conditions.  Our profession has a long history of using remedial exercise, we are known for our communication skills, we have experience of working across healthcare sectors and we work in partnership with many other professions.  All of this inspires confidence in our patients and means that we are often identified as the exercise professional of choice for people with long term conditions…and never has there been a greater need for these skills!

The population is changing; people are living longer and lifestyle-related diseases are on the increase.  This means that our patients are changing; we will see greater numbers of older people and more people who are living with complex co-morbidities and greater disability.  There are strong political drivers to get people more active and physiotherapists are well placed to have a central role in this agenda.  There has been a big focus on general exercise for public health recently but it’s important that our expertise in prescribing specific programmes for specific rehab goals is not overlooked. For the purposes of the Tweetchat, exercise prescription will cover general physical activity (e.g. prescribing walking as a means of managing weight and blood pressure), specific, focused exercise (e.g. range of movement and strength work post facture) and everything in between.

Our unique skill mix in this area plus the clear need for exercise prescription should mean that we are leading the way in this field.  However, there is evidence that the exercise-related content of undergraduate physiotherapy programmes has reduced significantly and that delivery varies between Universities.  Physiotherapists have reported feeling inadequate and under-skilled in this area compared to fitness industry professionals.

We have many opportunities to secure and expand our practice in the areas of physical activity and exercise but if we are to lead in this area we need to recognise it as a core part of our professional identity and embed exercise at the heart of physiotherapy.

Additional Resources

  1. This link will take you to a summary of the exercise debate at Physio UK in October http://www.csp.org.uk/news/2014/10/11/physio-14-physios-are-exercise-specialists-choice-delegates-say
  2. This article was published in 2012 and outlines the attitudes of practice educators towards their own exercise prescription skills http://www.csp.org.uk/physio-journal/98/2/contemporary-undergraduate-physiotherapy-education-terms-physical-activity-exerc
  3. The NHS Five Year Forward View outlines the “radical upgrade in prevention and public health” that is needed across the NHS. This forms part of the policy background for out Tweetchat. http://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/futurenhs/

Questions to think about before the chat

  1. Are we actually any good at prescribing exercise?
  2. What do we need to do to become better at exercise prescription?
  3. How do we become known as exercise experts?
  4. What essential exercise prescription skills should be taught in undergraduate physio programmes?

About our hosts

Anna & Rachel are Senior Lecturers in Physiotherapy at Sheffield Hallam University.  They are experienced clinicians and are passionate about the role of exercise and physical activity in physiotherapy.  They are both qualified fitness instructors and have recently worked with the Skills Active to embed fitness industry qualifications into the undergraduate physiotherapy course at Sheffield Hallam University.

Post chat information

It was a really busy chat – certainly sparked interest in a wide range of physios (and non physios) from a variety of clinical backgrounds. Thanks to all our participants.

#PhysioTalk Participants

You can find the transcript here to read through at your leisure and Anna has posted a fantastic summary on her blog


  1. In one sentence: health and fitness professionals need to understand better how force affects the human body.

    It is alarming how bad this industry is when it comes to exercise prescription.

    My suggestion: we should help each other’s in this matters. Medical staff don’t have knowledge in exercise prescription, physios don’t have enough formation in exercise, trainers don’t have scientific bases in exercise prescription. (I am generalising).

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