There is a lack of knowledge among healthcare professionals of the benefits of exercise, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has warned.
The risks of exercise are misunderstood and overestimated, the RCP said as it called for more use of physical activity in the treatment and management of disease.
Knowledge in sport and exercise medicine needs to be enhanced among healthcare professionals and should be taught to medical students as part of the national curriculum, an RCP spokeswoman said.
Professor Mark Batt, president of the faculty of sport and exercise medicine at the RCP, said: “Exercise is an effective and cheap prevention and treatment.
“Unlike many drugs there are few side-effects and of course it can be good for the environment too.
“Despite this, there remains reluctance among healthcare professionals, including doctors to ask about physical activity levels and use exercise as a treatment.
“There needs to be a concerted effort directed at improving medical knowledge and engagement and royal colleges should show leadership in this area.”