Aims to explore and examine the meanings attached to two general practitioner prescribed exercise schemes in London. A total of 13 interviewees were recruited in two leisure centres in the borough of Lewisham and asked about their perceptions of the exercise scheme in which they were participating. The ages of the participants ranged from 30 years to 61, and all but two of the group were women. Finds that the perceptions and beliefs of people who have been referred play an important part in determining how the exercise is beneficial. One illustration of this is that, often, a functional component of their respective bodies is tangibly improved by the exercise, for example breathing. Thus, for groups who attend and exercise under supervised conditions there is clearly a “health‐gain” however this is defined. Nevertheless, more comprehensive studies, perhaps using similar and complementary methodologies, are required in order to examine and clarify this further. General practitioners, the primary care team and commissioners of care need to be aware of the “qualitative” nature of the benefit which some scheme‐participants report.
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