126,204 members

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


The Lycra time-bomb

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Lycra time-bomb

Healthy living is costing the NHS millions in lost treatment opportunities. Inappropriate use of gyms, parks and leisure centres is threatening to bring hospitals and doctors’ surgeries to their knees as patients stay away in droves.

Ministers have warned that essential services may soon be unable to cope if people continue to heed warnings to look after their health by eating well and taking exercise.

“We have to find a way to get people out of gyms and into hospital to relieve the pressure on David Lloyd,” said a spokesman for the Department of Health.

“People should ask themselves if they really need to be there. Is that quick workout or game of squash absolutely necessary or could it take place in a more appropriate setting, such as the back garden or, better still, on a computer in a doctor’s waiting room?” 

Increasing weights

One scheme being considered by NHS England would put GPs and nurses in the reception areas of gyms and leisure centres to divert traffic to A&E.

In trials, triage teams have proved very effective at reducing demand for leisure activity. They are trained to ask whether people really feel as well as they think or may actually be on the verge of a medical crisis.

“When you point out the risks of a heart attack or stroke brought on by even moderate exercise people will often change their minds and decide to go for a pizza instead,” said one triage nurse.

Thousands continue to pour into health clubs lured by protein smoothies, mung bean and pomegranate superfood salads and carb free veggie burgers.  

The government is considering new legislation to compel private gyms and council run leisure centres to make chips, sweets and sugary drinks universally available.

“We won’t rest until health clubs offer the same nutritionally worthless fare as the average hospital canteen,” said the spokesman.

Sun bed blockers

There are also worrying signs that the gym-going population is ageing. Older people typically take longer to exercise and use proportionally more resources.

“At busy times, people are queueing halfway round the pool just to get into the sauna. Some older people get stuck in the jacuzzi for weeks. Since the local hospital closed there’s literally nowhere else for them to go,” said one health club manager, who preferred not to be named.

NHS England acknowledged that the situation was becoming worse. “If healthy living trends continue at current rates, there won’t be any need for the NHS in future,” said a spokesman.

Public Health England announced it is to replace the Five a Day campaign, which many blame for the current crisis, with a new Ten a Day campaign explaining the benefits of cigarette smoking to young people. 

The initiative is part of a new transformation strategy to promote unhealthy behaviour and shift activity from parks and community centres to secondary care.

Sports editor: Julian Patterson


Anonymous says:
Apr 28, 2017 08:29 AM

'Ten a day campaign' :)

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Apr 28, 2017 09:58 AM

Expecting a knock on the door from the health police any minute now.

david seabrooke
david seabrooke says:
Apr 28, 2017 01:16 PM

I confess.
I confess to having cycled to work today. I wore some lycra - even though it is polyester with only a small portion of lycra, my shame is undiminished. I confess to dodging several instances of an immediate visit to an urgent care centre so kindly offered to me by Audi drivers. I will probably not be able to resist cycling home again tonight.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Apr 28, 2017 03:54 PM

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step. Well done.
PS Have you considered that the Audi drivers were just trying to point out the error of your ways?

Mr Ed Hogbin
Mr Ed Hogbin says:
Apr 28, 2017 03:17 PM

Or health clubs could make people pay to use the gym. Oh yes, they already do and they provide excellent facilities