Bikes to be prescribed on NHS for first time in attempt to

Bicycles are to be prescribed on the NHS for the first time in attempts to improve the health of overweight patients. GPs in Wales will be able to assign six months of bike hire subscriptions on prescription for patients without charge.The move is said to help patients by reducing their chances of a premature death as well as lessening their reliance on medication.Health chiefs hope that the scheme, which will be trialled at Lansdowne Surgery and Fairwater Health Centre in Cardiff, will be extended across the rest of the Welsh capital if the pilot is successful.Overweight patients will be targeted in the project.Dr Tom Porter, a Consultant in Public Health Medicine with Public Health Wales, has said the scheme is also an effective way of improving mental wellbeing.Dr Porter said: “Cycling is a fantastic form of physical activity and riding your bike is one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of ill health while building your cardiovascular fitness. It’s also great for improving mental well-being too. “It is recommended that adults are active for at least 150 minutes every week, but many people feel that 150 minutes is simply too difficult to fit into their busy schedules. “Not only can cycling to work reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52 per cent, but it’s also a great way to get around the city without using your car, making it good for both you and the environment around you, and helping to keep the air clean for everyone while reducing carbon emissions.”For the first phase of the pilot we want to make sure the scheme works as intended, and is easy to use for patients and their health professionals, so we’ll be seeking feedback from participants. If the approach proves successful we’ll look at making it more widely available across the city,” he added.The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind, is being piloted with the help of bike hire firm Nextbike.As part of the pilot, selected patients will be provided with an access code which allows them a free 30-minute cycle session. The sessions will be unlimited for six months.Dr Karen Pardy is among the first batch of GPs who will be able to prescribe the service.She said: “Nextbike on prescription provides GPs and their teams with a valuable opportunity to help encourage patients to become more active. Whilst we are aware of the many benefits of exercise for our patients, people are sometimes reluctant to engage. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “Nextbike on prescription allows people to have a go at cycling around Cardiff and realise how this can help to support their overall wellbeing.”