Mole Valley District Council Exercise Scheme Changes Lives

Annabel in her swimming costume by the pool.

Since it began in 2015, more than 1,500 people with a range of physical and mental health conditions have been referred to Mole Valley District Council’s (MVDC) Exercise on Referral scheme. Many keep up their exercise habits after completing the scheme, and are enjoying a number of life-changing health benefits.

The scheme allows health professionals to refer patients to a low-cost supervised exercise programme that includes a series of personalised gym sessions, swimming sessions, or a combination of both. Patients can choose when to exercise at a time that suits them, either at Dorking Sports Centre or Leatherhead Leisure Centre.

To be eligible, individuals must suffer from one of the listed conditions, which includes obesity, arthritis, depression, long-standing back pain, asthma, diabetes and many more.

Individuals can apply to take part in the scheme by requesting the course from their GP, physiotherapist, mental health practitioner, district nurse or occupational therapist.

Since January this year, there have been more than 300 referrals to Dorking Sports Centre and Leatherhead Leisure Centre combined. The most common reasons for referral are joint replacement rehabilitation, followed by obesity and then mental health conditions.

Annabel, 54, from North Holmwood, who was referred by her GP for stress and depression to the scheme at Dorking Sports Centre, said: “When I first started I was nervous, but everybody was so encouraging.”

She soon started enjoying her sessions, and began coming on her own regularly.

“I now feel confident and relaxed. I’ve met so many people; everybody is so friendly.”

Annabel is now a regular swimmer. She is also taking a lifesaving course and having lessons in open water swimming. She says: “Now I feel so much better. Yes I still have depression, yes I still have stress, but I can cope with them much better because of the swimming.”

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure, Councillor David Draper, said: “It’s wonderful to hear Annabel’s story. Exercise on Referral really can be life changing. If you think you might be eligible, please do ask your GP. We know there must be many more people in Mole Valley who could benefitting.”

For more information on Exercise on Referral, visit or call 01306 885 001.

Inclusion criteria for scheme

Participants must meet the following criteria:

A)   Those whose activity levels are sedentary or inactive or,

B)   Those who have the capacity and motivation to increase their levels of physical activity

And suffer with at least one of the following:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension (<180/100mmHg)
  • Hyperlipidaemia (>5mmol/l)
  • BMI>30 (BMI<25 if another risk factor is present)
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis
  • Asthma/COPD
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Stable angina
  • Diagnosed coronary heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Long-standing back pain
  • Arthritis
  • Physical disabilities where independent physical activity is suitable
  • People with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety
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