Exercise referral

Start-Up and Healthwise are the council's exercise referral schemes for inactive Cambridge residents with medical conditions, whose health would benefit from leading a more active lifestyle.

The schemes can help those with a range of conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, mobility problems, depression and people living with and recovering from cancer and cardiac conditions.

The scheme provides the following activities:

  • Tailored individualised gym programmes
  • Long-term condition circuit classes
  • Recreational swimming
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Stroke rehabilitation classes
  • Cancer rehabilitation
  • Weight management activity sessions at Chesterton Sports Centre (See below)
  • Dementia friendly swimming

Each scheme lasts 12 weeks, during which time you can access the Start-Up or Healthwise/BETTER facilities at a reduced rate. Specialist exercise professionals will provide support, assistance and supervision throughout the referral process and beyond.

free 12-week course of exercise referral is currently available to patients registered to the East Barnwell Medical Centre, Arbury Road and Nuffield Road surgeries. Please contact your health professional at these surgeries for a referral form.


Whittle away your waist and achieve a healthy waist measurement in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. 

  • Choose from weekly gym, class or swimming sessions
  • FREE post workout refreshments after specific activities
  • FREE Nutritional and dietary advice
  • Available at Chesterton Sports Centre
  • £4 per session (discounts available for Chesterton referral members)
  • For further information please contact startup@cambridge.gov.uk or call 01223 458646

Free Botanic Garden walking tours

Exercise referral members are invited to join a guided walk through the beautiful Cambridge University Botanic Garden.  Come and see the gardens change through the seasons. Four tours are available free to exercise referral members throughout the year and places must be booked in advance. Please click below for further information:

Referral process

If you have a medical condition or disability and wish to become more active, talk to your GP, practice nurse or health professional about being referred on to an Exercise Referral Scheme.

Consultations with an exercise referral instructor are available at:

  • Abbey Lesiure Complex, Whitehill Road
  • Parkside Pools, Gonville Place
  • Chesterton Sports Centre, Gilbert Road
  • Hills Road Tennis and Sports Centre, Hills Road
  • Cambridge University Sports Centre, off Madingley Road
  • Trumpington Sports Centre and Clay Farm Community centre

Information for health professionals

The following information is for health professionals who want to register with the scheme and learn more about it.

How to make a referral

In accordance with the National Quality Assurance Framework for Exercise Referral Systems (NQAF), the following health professionals can potentially refer to the Start-Up scheme:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Dietitians

In order to refer patients, health professionals must first register with the scheme (see application and documents below).

Once we receive your request, our exercise referral team will email you confirming that you've been granted permission to start referring patients.

Please do not refer patients before we've granted permission. We aim to grant permission within 7 days of registering.

By agreeing and completing the registration form, health professionals will be registered with the Start-Up and ExSite schemes we run, as well as the South Cambridgeshire Active and Healthy 4 Life scheme. You'll then be able to refer patients to both schemes.

Referral forms are also available (below). Referral forms ideally should be completed and given to the patient, and it is the patient's responsibility to contact the scheme to make an appointment.

Application and documents


For all exercise referral enquiries contact the Start-Up and ExSite team via email at startup@cambridge.gov.uk or call 01223 458646.

To receive regular updates from the Sports Development department, please email your name, contact email, ward/district where you live and sporting area of interest, to sport@cambridge.gov.uk. Updates are sent at least once every three months.

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