GP backs national campaign to prescribe exercise

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Dr Jac De Bruyn at his Durlacher Street clinic.
Camera IconDr Jac De Bruyn at his Durlacher Street clinic. Credit: Tamra Carr The Geraldton Guardian

A Geraldton doctor says too many Australians are reluctant to exercise to address health problems and a change in mindset is needed.

Dr Jac De Bruyn, who has been a GP for nearly four decades, has backed a national campaign encouraging doctors to prescribe exercise.

The 62-year-old said too many patients wanted a quick fix and made excuses to avoid exercise — such as “it’s too windy,” or “too hot”.

He said general resistance to physical activity meant many GPs had given up prescribing exercise, which was known to have positive outcomes for chronic conditions, high blood pressure, lung issues, depression, addiction and a host of other ailments.

“When I see the body language of people I’ve recommended exercise to ... it just tells me all I need to know,” he said.

“People just want a tablet, a quick fix to their problems. They don’t see exercise as proper treatment.”

Dr De Bruyn, pictured, said the health system could save millions if exercise suggestions were taken seriously. He believes an education campaign would help combat negative attitudes surrounding physical activity.

Geraldton fitness advocate Derek Goforth, who slimmed down from 200kg to 108kg through exercise, agrees.

But he said doctors had a part to play by presenting exercise more positively.

Geraldton health advocate Derek Goforth at his Woorree home.
Camera IconGeraldton health advocate Derek Goforth at his Woorree home. Credit: Tamra Carr The Geraldton Guardian

“People think of exercise as arduous, monotonous, boring, exhausting, painful and something that’s done by yourself,” Mr Goforth said.

“I think the onus is on doctors to make exercise seem legitimate and paint it in a positive light.”

Geraldton exercise physiologist Tom Knight agreed with Mr Goforth and said it would be helpful if GPs took the time to find out the interests of a patient.

“It will be hard to convince someone to go swimming if they don’t like to do it, but if they like running, they might do that instead,” Mr Knight said.

The Exercise Right campaign, launched this month, encourages GPs to consider exercise as medicine and refer more patients to exercise physiologists.

According to campaigners, GPs are not spending enough time talking to their patients about exercise.

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