The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


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Physiotherapy and obesity: the impact of physical activity

Physiotherapy staff are perfectly placed to help combat the current rise in obesity levels.

Obese individuals often have complex biopsychosocial barriers to physical activity participation. Physiotherapists are uniquely positioned to facilitate physical activity required for weight management in these patients due to their sound grounding in a range of relevant areas.

A new Physiotherapy works evidence briefing on obesity has now been published. It outline the role that physiotherapy can play in weight management, alongside service examples, with details on how to measure the impact of a service.

What is the evidence?

The CSP's physical activity evidence briefing examines:

  • sedentary behaviour trends
  • the health impact of physical activity and inactivity
  • the economic impact of physical inactivity
  • brief interventions for physical activity.

Access the physical activity evidence briefing.

What is the role of physiotherapy and the fitness industry?

Physiotherapists are not the only profession to work in the field of physical activity, with fitness instructors being one of the key professions for collaborative working. To gain more insight into how collaborative working with the fitness industry can make a real impact on public health, please read the following document: Physiotherapy and the fitness industry

The CSP and the Fitness Industry Association (now called UKactive) have joined forces to produce guidelines for their members on the referral of clients between the two professions. The guidelines, which contains clinical examples, set out when either profession is best placed to manage a supervised exercise programme and clarifies the appropriate qualification / registration standards for fitness instructors working with patients: CSP guidance for referral to fitness industry.

A shortened version of these guidelines is also available for GPs: Referral to a physiotherapist or fitness instructor for supervised exercise - referral advice for GPs

To ensure that patients are referred to both professions appropriately, you should make sure that your local GP surgeries are familiar with the above document.

Further resources on physical activity

The BMJ has produced a number of e-learning modules, some of which are free of charge. This can be accessed by following the links below:


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