05/11/2015 02:34 EDT | Updated 05/11/2016 05:59 EDT

B.C. doctors prescribe exercise instead of medicine

Some British Columbians are leaving the doctor's office with a prescription to hit the gym or take yoga classes.

Six months ago, a group of doctors in the Central Okanagan region started a pilot project to link patients to local community fitness centres. The project was so successful that the non-profit Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice now wants to get more doctors on board.

"We all realized we've become a sedentary and inactive society and the phrase we use is 'Exercise is medicine,'" family physician Dr. Roger Crittenden told Daybreak South.

"Increasingly we know this, that [exercise] improves many health parameters — mental and physical, and many types of diseases."

Crittenden said he and some colleagues have spent the last week trying to recruit more doctors into the program.

Many doctors already tell their patients to get more exercise, but the order appears to be more effective when patients actually receive a written prescription, Crittenden said. 

Crittenden's group typically includes recommended exercises and their duration in prescriptions, and will also refer patients to fitness specialists.

To hear the full interview with Roger Crittenden, listen to the audio labelled: B.C. doctors swap prescription medicine for exercise