Exercise referral

We run two exercise referral schemes for inactive residents with a medical condition or disability - Start-Up and Healthwise.

Both schemes can help adults become more active to help improve or manage their health. Both provide the same level of support and monitoring, and both report to and are evaluated by us. 

Our exercise referral service can help people with diagnosed medical conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression and more. We can also help people living with and recovering from cancer and cardiac conditions.

The schemes provide the following activities:

  • Tailored gym programmes in a supervised environment
  • Long-term condition circuit classes
  • Recreational swimming
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Stroke rehabilitation classes
  • Cancer rehabilitation
  • Aqua classes, including a dementia-friendly session
  • Walking tours of the botanic gardens (see below)

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

All GP surgeries, as well as some departments at Addenbrooke's hospital, Brookfields hospital and Chesterton medical centre have the option to refer patients. Please see your health professional for information on your eligibility, or download our guide:

For patients not eligible for the free service, registration to the programme costs £7.50 and individual exercise sessions cost £3 each. There are also subsidised and special rate membership packages for exercise referral clients who would benefit financially from them.

Free exercise referral courses are currently available to all patients who are:

  • registered at the Arbury Road, East Barnwell or Nuffield Road surgeries
  • entitled to a free prescription and registered at the Cornford House, Fishers Lane, Mill Road, Petersfield, Red House, Trumpington (Clay Farm) or York Street

Cardiac rehabilitation classes

These circuit-based group sessions include a combination of cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening exercises.

The classes are the perfect follow-up to clinical based Phase III cardiac rehabilitation. They are only available for people who have had a heart attack, suffer with angina, or have had heart surgery.

Places are limited. Inform your exercise referral consultant who will assess your suitability and arrange a booking, or use the contact details below.

Cancer rehabilitation classes

There is growing evidence to supports the benefits that physical activity can have to cancer patients. We provide two rehabilitation classes to adults currently undergoing treatment (including carers), and to adults living beyond a cancer diagnosis.

You'll need a referral to access either of the classes. Contact us (details below) for more information on obtaining a referral or to check your availability and suitability for the class.

Pro-Active – Men’s cancer rehabilitation class

  • Tuesdays, 4.30 to 5.30pm at Hills Road Sports and Tennis Centre
  • £3 per session

Care 4U – Cancer advice, rehabilitation and exercise for all

  • Fridays from 6 July at Cherry Hinton Village Centre
    • 10.30 to 11am: chair-based exercise
    • 11 to 11.30am: standing exercises
    • 11.30am to midday: fun activities including health walks, table tennis and ball games
  • £3 for a 30 to 90-minute session

Stay for the full 90 minutes or take part in any of the 30-minute activities.

Free botanic garden walking tours

Join a guided walk around Cambridge University botanic garden and see it change with the seasons. The walks are free to exercise referral scheme users. Places must be booked in advance – contact us to book a place.

  • 18 October, 11am

Referral process

Access to the service is only available via a referral from a health professional.
Consultations with an exercise referral instructor are available up to five days a week at:

Patients can access whichever centre is most convenient to them. All centres provide exercise referral clients with the opportunity to attend during the daytime, evening and at weekends.

Information for health professionals

We adhere to the guidelines as stipulated in the Department of Health’s NQAF for exercise referral systems (2001).

How to make a referral

Only the following health professionals can refer to our exercise referral services:

  • Doctors (all grades and specialisms)
  • Nurses (all grades and specialisms)
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Dietitians

We recommend that all health professionals who wish to refer first read the scheme's terms and conditions [PDF, 198KB].

We also recommend that health professionals register with the service. If you do so, we will add you to our database of health professionals, and send you regular emails about the service and hard copies of the referral forms.

You can also provide consent for us to share your contact details with South Cambridgeshire District Council’s exercise referral service, if appropriate.

Referral forms should ideally be completed and given to the patient, giving them responsibility for choosing and contacting their best location for an appointment.

Referral forms

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