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“The role of regular physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing chronic disease cannot be over-emphasised," said Dr James Bilzon
“The role of regular physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing chronic disease cannot be over-emphasised," said Dr James Bilzon
sport and exercise science

Press Release - 25 June 2008

Sport practitioners to be trained in behaviour change to improve health in the UK

Sport and exercise practitioners will have the opportunity to develop expertise in health behaviour change as part of the drive to promote healthy lifestyles in the UK.

The new ‘Exercise for Health’ unit will be offered to students on the University of Bath’s postgraduate programme in Sport & Exercise Medicine from July 2008.

An inactive lifestyle has a substantial, negative impact on both individual and public health - the estimated costs of physical inactivity in England is around £8.2 billion annually.

The biggest challenge from a public health perspective is to help people to adopt and adhere to regular physical activity. Any such effort needs to take into account the barriers people face in being active, the complexity of physical activity behaviour, and the complexity of lifestyle changes.

Adopting an evidence-based approach, the unit will enable existing masters students to critically evaluate current physical activity interventions and promote activity in people with a variety of health conditions and within populations needing special attention.

Dr James Bilzon, the new academic Director of Studies for the School for Health’s MSc/Diploma in Sport & Exercise Medicine, said:

“The role of regular physical activity in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing chronic disease cannot be over-emphasised. Exercise for Health is such a pressing, topical issue that we felt it warranted specific emphasis within the course.

“Our students, all of whom are doctors, many working in General Practice or hospital settings, are becoming increasingly involved in promoting regular physical activity and changing health-related behaviours. In order to do this effectively within their day-to-day practice, they need to be aware of the latest available evidence.

"This unit, led by highly experienced professionals, will provide that information.”

He explained: “As the course is delivered online, tutors and students are able to share the most up to date knowledge available, which is particularly important in this rapidly evolving field of Public Health. There are great advances in research occurring in this field all the time, not least at the University of Bath with experts such as Professor Chris Riddoch and Dr Afroditi Stathi.”

Dr Stathi, Lecturer in Exercise Psychology, has specific international research experience involving different population groups and their participation in physical activity, and will lead the unit, along with expert tutors who are specialist medical practitioners.

Professor Chris Riddoch is a world expert in the field of sport and exercise science. His research focuses on children’s physical activity and health and he is currently involved in national and international studies looking at childhood health and obesity. His research will be highlighted in the new Exercise for Health unit.

The postgraduate Sport & Exercise Medicine programme began in 1992 and has grown to be the largest of its kind in the world, with over 650 students participating from around the world. The programme is taught predominantly through distance learning, using a pioneering virtual learning environment that features online clinics, a digital resource library and facilitated online communications with tutors and peers.

Last year, it was recognised as equivalent to the diploma offered by the Faculty of Sports & Exercise Medicine (FSEM) which was established in 2006 to supervise the education and training of future specialists in the area.

Graduates from the course include doctors working with elite sports teams, such as British Cycling and the GB Paralympics teams, and those who use their skills as part of their hospital or community-based practice.

The Exercise for Health unit is likely to be made available as a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Unit for doctors in 2009.

For further information please contact Claire Hornshaw in the University of Bath Press Office on +44 (0)1225 386 319 or +44 (0)7966 341 431 or email press@bath.ac.uk


The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/

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