Exercise may be the best form of medicine. Such is the thinking behind a push to set up exercise therapy centres at hospitals here.
In September next year, such a centre, called an Active Centre, will open at Alexandra Hospital.
The centre, in partnership with the National University Health System, will provide exercise therapy for patients from its chronic and metabolic disease clinics to complement the usual medical treatment.
At the centre, clinicians, exercise physicians and trainers will conduct the risk and assessment tests for patients to see what physical activity will benefit them. They will also be monitored by doctors.
Also in the works is a similar centre by the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics. The new facility, whose completion date is not confirmed, will be at the upcoming Sembawang Sports and Community Hub, which will also house Sembawang Polyclinic.
NHGP's healthcare team, including doctors, nurses, health promoters and allied health professionals such as dietitians and physiotherapists, will be involved, said NHGP.
The move to integrate exercise as part of regular medical treatment is timely, given the ageing population and rise in chronic diseases such as diabetes, said doctors involved in the Active Health initiative.
"We know that inactivity is a major contributor to many chronic diseases, and exercise can even prevent the onset of such diseases," said Dr Benedict Tan, chairman of Exercise is Medicine Singapore.It is part of a global initiative encouraging healthcare professionals to include exercise in treatment.
Dr Tan said the Active Health Labs i and Active Centre will help ease the load on hospital facilities.
Dr Lingaraj Krishna, the programme lead for Alexandra Hospital's new Active Centre, said: "By having the Active Centre within the hospital complex, we are able to convey a very powerful message that exercise is not just a lifestyle choice, but a health choice."
Currently, hospitals have facilities for rehabilitation, but not for general exercise. The Active Centre will help to plug that gap, he added.