CSP campaign: love activity, hate exercise?

A vital physiotherapy campaign will help empower professionals to promote the activities people love and improve health. CSP assistant director Sara Hazzard heralds this summer’s launch of love activity, hate exercise?

A new CSP campaign to promote the role of physiotherapy is heading for its launch.  Love activity, hate exercise? has been designed by members and patients to break ground about the unique role of physiotherapy. Crucially, it is all based on research from people with long-term conditions, who told us about their emotional and physical barriers to becoming more active.
The title, Love activity, hate exercise? reflects the conflicting feelings about physical activity many people experience, especially those with long-term conditions. The question mark next to ‘exercise’ in the campaign title is very important – it makes it a topic for discussion, rather than a statement. Unlike campaigns that are often aimed at the general public, this will aim to reach the people who can be – or are already being – helped by physiotherapy advice. It aims to take an empathetic approach and builds on the trust that the public has for the profession. 

Love activity – what patients need

The research we did with patients and physiotherapists to help plan the campaign was crucial to help get the right messages across. This included more than10 focus groups, each with up to10 participants and took place face to face, online and by phone, in different parts of the UK. The research confirmed that patients see physios as reassurers, referrers, advisors and pain relievers.  What they haven’t always been associated with is physical activity. 
It was often through talking about their love of these activities, such as dancing or walking, they realised that their patients did not actually hate exercise. 
What they hated was the pain and fatigue they feel and the fear associated with how they might be viewed by others if they took part in exercise. 

Hate exercise? – a member led campaign to tackle this

In place of the CSP’s Workout@Work campaign, which ran for several years previously, members set out to create something new and relevant. Something that would give every CSP member a chance to promote the profession and put physiotherapy in the public spotlight. Feedback from members involved in Workout@Work helped us to generate this new campaign that tackles many of the key challenges to physical inactivity across the UK. 
Members wanted a campaign that would fit into their work schedule: something that would establish the unique offer physiotherapy makes to public health. They asked us to make it fun, simple and in a format that can be customised locally and in a way that showcases to managers how physio contributes to the bigger health picture.
Our research with members and patients revealed that the success of this campaign will depend on showing empathy for how patients really feel. Physios specifically warned us how negatively the word ‘exercise’ was received by many of their patients. 

A new approach designed by members for patients

This campaign will draw attention to the profession in a way that resonates with people with long-term conditions. We believe that its message will be well received by decision makers, not least by highlighting the important contribution the profession can make to improve whole population health.
To give members the resources they need to get key messages across, we have reviewed our most popular leaflets and will print new items that fit with this campaign. New animations, videos, printed give aways, customised posters, badges and a host of other items are currently planned. We will continue to talk with and listen to members, our partners and patients every step of the way.  

Member View

‘This is a brilliant opportunity to engage physiotherapy teams and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to talk to patients about physical activity.’  
  • Anna Lowe physical activity clinical champion at Public Health England 
‘This campaign will provide physiotherapists with further confidence and encouragement to use the skills we have to make the biggest difference for our patients. It should help us to feel empowered to make recommendations on physical activity and improve the overall health benefits to their patients.’ 
  • Toby Smith Senior Researcher in Rehabilitation, University of Oxford  
‘I am so excited about the Love activity, hate exercise? campaign because it is truly ‘holistic’. Evidence has suggested that even mild activity has positive effects on both anxiety and depression, as well as the many other physical benefits. Given the alarming statistics about both mental and physical health, this campaign will not only aim to improve the overall wellbeing of our population, but it will highlight just how pro-active we are as a profession.’
  • Mobeen Janjua Physiotherapist, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

Further reading

When can you expect to hear more? 

Love activity, hate exercise? will be launched to members on 17 May and to the public in early July. In mid-May, we will be contacting all of you with an invitation to register with the campaign. And look out for further information in Frontline too. 

Key dates

  • 11 April: campaign reveal – members can express interest by emailing cre@csp.org.uk
  • 17 May: formal sign up opens  
  • 5 July: public/patient launch

Sara Hazzard CSP assistant director

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