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Wednesday, July 15, 1998 Published at 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK


Health

Patients, get on your bike

Dundee patients take to their bikes

A Scottish surgery is turning its back on pills and promoting the values of peddle power in a bid to boost the fitness of its patients.

Downfield Surgery in Dundee has been given a grant of around £2,000 by the Scottish Office as part of its Cycle Challenge.

The money has been spent on six bikes, helmets, reflective jackets and other equipment.

They will be loaned out to patients for a maximum two-week period.

Dr Ann Dunbar, one of the doctors at the surgery, said: "We want people to get the idea of getting on their bike so they can see if they enjoy it. We hope they will be encouraged to buy their own. It's a kind of taste it and see."

She added: "We want to foster the idea that people can influence their own health. People think it is doctors who influence their health, but it is their responsibility. We can help along the way."

The surgery is also promoting the importance of good diet, no smoking and cutting down on drinking.

Priority

The bikes can be prescribed for any patients, but priority will go to those who have had heart attacks in the past or other chronic illnesses, such as bronchitis.


[ image: The Scottish Office is supporting Downfield's cycling treatment]
The Scottish Office is supporting Downfield's cycling treatment
They will be given a fitness programme which will be monitored by doctors. They will be expected to do around 30 minutes' exercise on the bike a day or at least three times a week.

"Cycling has been shown to have an enormous effect on people's health and well being," said Dr Dunbar.

One of the first patients to take to the road on Wednesday was 53-year-old Bert Field who is due for a heart bypass operation at the weekend.

Dr Dunbar says cycling will help him to get fit enough for surgery.

Rationing

She added that, as the practice only had six bikes, they would have to restrict the number of patients who got to use them.

"Despite what people say, there is rationing in the health service!" she said.

Downfield surgery has pioneered new attitudes to health. Last year, it issued pamphlets to patients about walks they could take around Dundee.



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