School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


15 Mar 2018

Exercise As Medicine: new MSc programme aims to get health practitioners prescribing movement, not drugs

Loughborough University's new MSc in Exercise As Medicine has been designed to educate a new, highly skilled cadre of allied health professionals with the ability to work alongside clinicians and practitioners to manage the epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions. In the words of programme director Dr Dale Esliger, it is hoped that graduates from the programme will help clinicians "reach to the prescription pad for movement and exercise, that would be better than reaching for drugs."

Dr Esliger is Senior Lecturer in the Measurement of Physical Activity at Loughborough University and his research investigating physical activity measurement methodologies and the interplay between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and health, informs the new programme which will train its first cohort of postgraduate students this year.

We asked Dr Esliger to tell us a bit about the programme.

"Exercise medicine is a movement that really started in America," he told us. "We understood the quality of outcomes that were had by people who exercise, but, more than that, it was about trying to get that information from the sport and exercise scientists of the world into the hands of the clinicians - the allied health professionals that see the patients - and if we could get them to reach to the prescription pad for movement or exercise, that would be much better than reaching for pharmalogical agents/drugs."

For that to happen, he said, there needs to be a new cadre of students going out to practice exercise medicine in the health sector.

"The reason it's right for this programme to be at Loughborough is that we have a long tradition of expertise in health and exercise science," he explained.

Based in the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine - East Midlands, students registered on the programme will be taught in high-quality teaching environments and have access to state-of-art laboratories designed to facilitate the transfer of cutting-edge research to frontline support and care. Students will be exposed to a range of specialist equipment and technology to facilitate their development, including what Dr Esliger describes as possibly the largest collection of wearable tech "in Europe, if not the world".

"In terms of the uniqueness of the programme, one of the nice things about having a brand new NHS facility on campus is the type of people we're attracting who believe in the movement," he told us. "And because of that we can really move forward innovations in the programme."

"Let me give you an example: the NHS has created a sub-organisation called NHS Digital that is looking at innovations in the wearable tech marketplace that's really driven by consumer goods. What can we learn from these goods about the self-management of chronic diseases from a patient's perspective? The new age of telehealth - telehealth 3.0, if you like - is having a continuous glucose sensor on the body, or continuous blood pressure monitoring. And who's going to understand how to relay that physiological information and link it back to the behavioural information of exercise and human movement. That's where the sport science expertise comes in. And this programme is really going to focus on that."

He added: "The assets we have in terms of wearable tech is probably the largest collection in Europe, if not the world."

"The timing couldn't be more right for this programme," said Dr Esliger, calling it "the capstone" of a lot of effort that has been put into exercise medicine research at Loughborough University.

Earlier this month it was announced that Professor Amanda Daley would be bringing her expertise in lifestyle interventions and health outcomes to Loughborough as Professor of Behavioural Medicine, an appointment that further contributes to the University's reputation for research seeking ways to improve UK health.

For more information about the MSc in Exercise As Medicine, visit the online prospectus: