Do South African general practitioners believe that ‘Exercise is Medicine’?
AbstractBackground. Physical activity (PA) has been described as medicine, owing to the clear evidence for its role in the prevention and management of various diseases.
Objectives. To determine the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes of South African general practitioners (GPs) towards the promotion
Methods. A total of 255 private-sector GPs from various provinces in SA participated in our cross-sectional study, by completing a selfreport
questionnaire surveying their knowledge, perceptions and attitudes towards the promotion of PA.
Results. The findings indicated that South African GPs in general do promote PA to their patients for treatment and health promotion. The
majority of GPs in our study strongly believed that promoting PA is an important part of primary healthcare. The GPs frequently promoted
exercise in the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidaemia.
Conclusion. South African GPs appear to be recommending PA to their patients at a primary-care level. Clear practice guidelines are needed to promote PA in a way that will have a population-level impact. To aid this, GPs are encouraged to provide written information to promote PA in a way that will have an effect.